New York Yankees’ Title Hopes Ride on Return of Andy Pettitte

August 27, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Looking back, it’s astounding to think that the Yankees ever let Andy Pettitte get away.

He’s only been the guts of every championship rotation the franchise has assembled in the past 15 years, after all. Not to besmirch the dead, but Pettitte’s regrettable sabbatical in Houston fell directly on The Boss, who never did fully appreciate what the lefty meant to the Yankees.

And he’s meant a lot. His 240 wins (203 of which came in pinstripes) don’t begin to explain how vital he has been to the franchise.

The conventional wisdom is that Boston Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett is the best big-game pitcher of his generation, but the case could certainly be made for Pettitte. Look no further than last season, when Pettitte, then 37, won the clinching game in each of the three postseason series the Yankees played.

It was a remarkable and unprecedented feat by a player who was supposed to be in the twilight of his career.

So it should be with great concern that the Yankees wait for the results of Pettitte’s latest bullpen session, scheduled for today in Chicago.

Pettitte hasn’t pitched since July 18, the day he strained his groin during a start against the Tampa Bay Rays. After a couple of setbacks, the Yankees are hoping that today’s bullpen will officially kick start the countdown on his return to game action.

For what it’s worth, manager Joe Girardi seemed a tad nervous when discussing the situation.

“I think we’re all curious to see how he’s going to do,” Girardi said, likely while perusing blueprints of the Wrigley Field manager’s office. “I think there’s anxiety on Andy’s part and on everybody’s part…I think it will be a good indicator. Every time that he’s tried to really push off, he’s felt a little tug. If he’s able to really push off on Friday, that would tell me that he’s healed.”

But what if Pettitte were to feel that tug again? What if Pettitte couldn’t get back for another month? What if (gulp) Pettitte couldn’t come back at all?

A postseason rotation of Sabathia, Hughes, and a lot of bad news, as former Yanks beat man Pete Abe would say.

There are no guarantees in baseball, just like there are no guarantees that the body of an athlete staring down the barrel of 40 will cooperate when it’s counted on most.

This much I can be sure of, however: Without Pettitte, the Yankees aren’t going back to the World Series.

That’s why the 20 or so pitches thrown by Pettitte today in the U.S. Cellular Field bullpen are far more important than anything that happens tonight on the field.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at dhanzus@gmail.com. Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus .

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