Andy Pettitte throws simulated game

BOSTON -- Andy Pettitte threw 55 pitches Wednesday in what he hopes will be his final simulated game, and now his fate largely rests with New York Yankees team doctor Chris Ahmad, who will examine the 40-year-old left-hander after the team returns home from Boston on Friday to determine if he is ready to return to full game action.

Pettitte last pitched on June 27, when he suffered a broken left ankle on a comebacker in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians.

"If the doctor feels it's completely healed, then there will be a decision we'll have to make," Girardi said. "Andy has to be what we all feel is ready. You can't throw a guy out there that's not ready. That's not fair to him, and it's not fair to us."

Pettitte said he thinks he can give the Yankees "a good 60-65 hard pitches" if he were slotted into the rotation five days from now.

"I think that when he goes out there, it might have to be enough if we decide that he's ready," Girardi said. "Today he threw in the 50s. You can add 15-20 (pitches) to that, and I think he's going to be fine."

Asked if he thought Pettitte's stuff was good enough right now to get out major-league hitters, Girardi said, "Yes. Oh, yes."

Pettitte was pitching well -- 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA in nine starts -- at the time of his injury, which occurred when Casey Kotchman lined a ball off his leg. He suffered a setback in his rehab in July when he pushed too hard during a throwing session and was shut down for a time.

But now, having thrown three simulated games and participating in fielding drills, Pettitte said he is physically prepared to return to action.

"My leg is feeling great," he said. "I just want to get out there and pitch."

Pettitte said the most difficult part of his absence has been watching his team squander its 10-game lead in the AL East without being able to help. Still, he said he relished the prospect of being in a pennant race.

"I mean, it's exciting," he said. "Obviously, we had a big lead and that lead is gone, but this is what it's all about. If you don't embrace this and you don't enjoy this, if you're scared of this situation, you're not going to be very successful. So it's exciting and it's fun. Do you want to fail? No. But you can't be scared of failure, that's for sure."

Pettitte, who has won more playoff games than any pitcher in baseball history, is 19-10 with a 3.83 ERA in the postseason. He expressed optimism today that his teammates will pull out of their current slide and win the AL East.

"I think we got a lot of experience in here, a lot of guys who have done it, and usually if you're healthy and guys are feeling good, that usually wins out, I think," Pettitte said. "I think we're a very competent group. I know we're all pulling for one another. I just think we got a good group of men in here and I think we're going to be able to pull this thing together and win this thing. We got too much talent not to."