New York Yankees: Andy Pettitte's Ankle Good After Sunday, Live Hitters Next

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst ISeptember 2, 2012

While the Yankees were getting beat up by the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, some of the focus for the team and coaches was on Andy Pettitte.

Pettitte again tested his ankle in a bullpen session by throwing 35 pitches off a mound, and his ankle "felt really good," according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was extremely impressed with what he saw from his 40-year old veteran on Sunday.

I think he’s making a lot of progress now. The fact that he’s (throwing) off the mound, he’s comfortable and he’s throwing fine, tells me he’s on the path to getting back. So the next step we’ll have to wait and see exactly what it is, but I imagine he’ll do some type of throwing in three days.

The next step now is to have Pettitte throw a live session of batting practice against hitters in the next couple of days, barring any setbacks or soreness in the ankle.

Pettitte has been on the DL since June 27 with a fractured fibula after taking a line drive off the ankle against the Cleveland Indians' Casey Kotchman.

Leading up to that game, Pettitte was pitching very well for the Yankees, posting a 3-3 record with a 3.26 ERA in nine starts with 59 strikeouts in 58.2 innings.

Given that the Yankees are struggling right now and are barely holding onto their lead over the Orioles in the A.L. East, having Pettitte back ASAP in September is crucial.

The target for Pettitte to return to the Yankees is right around the middle of September and make anywhere from two tothree starts before the playoffs begin.

Ultimately, the postseason is where the Yankees need Pettitte the most.

Hopefully for Pettitte and the Yankees, the live batting practice goes well for him and they can start to formulate a return time for the lefty.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.

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