Yankees

Yankees Manager Not Too Worried About Andy Pettitte’s Balky Back

Team Unsure Whether 40-Year-Old Veteran Will Miss Next Start
Yankees starter Andy Pettitte leaves due to injury in the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners on May 16, 2013. (credit: Mike McCann/WFAN)

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte leaves due to injury in the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners on May 16, 2013. (credit: Mike McCann/WFAN)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Yankees fans held their breath as starter Andy Pettitte left Thursday’s game with a back injury.

But manager Joe Girardi didn’t sound too concerned.

“I don’t think Andy’s (injury) is too bad,” Girardi said after New York’s 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners. “His trap just kind of got a knot in it, and to me it was affecting his velocity. That’s why I took him out. It’s muscular, but I don’t know what that means going forward.”

Pettitte missed a start in April because of lower back spasms. This was diagnosed as a tight left trapezius muscle, near his pitching shoulder.

It was too soon to determine whether he would miss his next turn.

“Obviously, I’m realistic,” Pettitte said. “I know how these guys are. I asked them if I could stay out there and try to get through it out there. I’m hoping it’s a spasm and it settles down.”

Seeking his 250th win, Pettitte started feeling uncomfortable in the fourth inning, when Seattle took a 2-1 lead on an infield single by Brendan Ryan, who had been in a 5-for-60 slide.

Pettitte said he saw a trainer after the inning, and his back “loosened up and loosened up really good.” Then came the fifth.

“It completely locked back up on me,” Pettitte said. “I couldn’t get extended at all. I really just felt like I was kind of cutting everything off and really just trying to throw it in there, just almost slower than slow to tell you the truth.”

Pettitte (4-3) allowed two runs, four hits and three walks in 4 2-3 innings with five strikeouts, struggling again with his command. In the fourth, he ran into foul territory on the third base side to make a basket catch on Raul Ibanez’s low popup but said that didn’t figure into his back problem.

“It was just really tight,” Pettitte said. “I couldn’t get extended at all. I really just felt like I was kind of cutting everything off and just really trying to throw it in there almost slower than slow, to tell you the truth.”

Girardi said the Yankees are “going to go through this probably a little bit” with the 40-year-old starter.

“There’s no doubt I’m getting old. But I don’t want to sit there and tell you that that’s the exact reason why,” Pettitte said. “I look around the league and I see all kind of people on the DL with all kind of problems that are a lot younger than me, too.”

Twelve Yankees already have been on the disabled list this year, costing a total of 332 games. Yankees catcher Chris Stewart could be next with a leg injury.

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