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Pettitte Ready, Brackman Progressing

By Jed Weisberger ~ September 15th, 2010. Filed under: Digest Contributors.

ALTOONA, Pa. – What can Yankees fans expect when left-hander Andy Pettitte makes his first start since July 18 Sunday in Baltimore?

Pettitte has looked good in both of his rehab starts with Double-A Trenton. His stamina is returning. He is able to push off his healed left groin without an issue.  He is mostly putting his pitches where he wants to.

In fact, he’s mostly doing everything you would expect, yet:

“I’m nowhere near where I was before I got hurt,’’ Pettitte said after his second Trenton start, a 67-pitch (49 strikes), five-inning effort in which he allowed two runs, six hits, one home run and had two wild pitches. “I feel I can go 75 to 80 pitches on Sunday.

“Otherwise, I don’t know what to expect.’’

Pettitte, who was 11-2, 2.88 prior to his injury, is determined to not only to return to form, but to help the Yankees. What frustrates the 38-year-old veteran so much is that he has watched some of the issues the team has had with its rotation while being unable to do anything about it.

First there were the setbacks of pushing too hard to come back in the beginning. Then there was the feeling of not contributing.

“It was terrible for me,’’ he said. “I was out much longer than I thought I would be and I just want to get back in there. I felt like a zero because I wasn’t contributing.’’

His first Sunday accomplishment in Camden Yards will simply be throwing a pitch to a Major League hitter.  Then he hopes to be as effective as I can.

The key is that he feels good.

“I’ve had no pain in my groin in the two Trenton starts, and both my arms and shoulders feel good. I hope to get back to near where I was by the playoffs.’’

Pettitte will likely get three starts before postseason play. He hopes, by the end of the three, to be able to be at, or exceed the 100-pitch mark.

“Three is all we have time for, so that’s going to have to do,’’ he said.

Taking Sunday’s start into consideration, a fan, like the pitcher himself, should consider it a return and take matters inning-by-inning and situation-by-situation.  By no means will Pettitte be a miracle worker or a cure-all.

He will, however, give the Yankees a competitive start, keep them in the game. He hung a cutter pitching against Altoona’s Chase d’Arnaud Tuesday night.  He needs to avoid such against Luke Scott, Nick Markakis and manager Buck Showlater’s rejuvenated band of Orioles.

“I just want to get out there and help our team,’’ said Pettitte. “I’m not used to this.’’

Neither are Yankees fans.

BRACKMAN PROGRESSING: There were some questions on right-hander Andrew Brackman’s velocity earlier in the season. Since he’s been with Trenton, his fastball has sat in the 93-94 range, with several hitting 96. Tuesday night, Brackman, who did not pitch in Trenton’s first playoff series because he was scheduled to start Game 4 and the Thunder recorded a three-game sweep, was dominant.

He put together a dominating performance in Trenton’s 3-2, 10-inning win in Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series.  In tossing five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, he mixed a fastball that reach 98 with curve that could only be described as filthy.

Watching his progress over the past month, Brackman is re-emerging as a major prospect.

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Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.

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