Andy Pettitte comeback gets closer

CHICAGO -- Andy Pettitte took another step forward Sunday in his recovery from a groin strain that has kept him out of action since July 18, throwing 35 pitches in a bullpen session that he described as "a lot more intense" than the session he threw on Friday.

But the 38-year-old left-hander said it would still be "two weeks at least" before he could return to the mound. "It all depends on what they want me to do," Pettitte said. "Whenever they want me, I'll go out there."

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said he would like Pettitte back in his struggling rotation as soon as possible, but agreed that the two-week timetable was realistic. "That sounds about right as long as we don't have any setbacks," Girardi said.

Girardi said Pettitte would throw another bullpen either Tuesday or Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, and then would probably start throwing to hitters. "The problem is there might not be any minor league games left for him to pitch in by then," Girardi said. "The only game in town might be up here."

Pettitte, 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA at the time of his injury, said his arm "bounced back big-time" after throwing 20 pitches on Friday, after which he told 1050 ESPN Radio's Michael Kay his arm "felt like a 4" on a scale of 1-10.

"I was a little concerned about it because it just didn't feel good at all," Pettitte said. "But today my arm felt like a 9. Now I'm looking forward to getting against some hitters so I can really see where I'm at."

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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