Yanks' Pettitte expected to start Monday

SEATTLE -- Andy Pettitte just wants Monday to arrive and get a true gauge of how his tired left shoulder is feeling.

The Yankees, already looking ahead to the postseason, would like to see a healthy Pettitte as well and put to rest some of the concerns about New York's playoff rotation.

Pettitte came away from his regular bullpen session without any problems on Friday before the Yankees opened a six-game road trip in Seattle, and the lefty is expected to start on Monday night in Anaheim against the AL West leading Los Angeles Angels.

"Monday will be good. I'll be happy when I get through Monday and don't have any problems," Pettitte said. "I want to stand on the mound in the sixth and seventh inning and still feel strong, and they have to come pull me. Not [that] I'm running on fumes like how I felt in [Baltimore] trying to get through that last inning there."

Pettitte's last scheduled start on Wednesday was skipped because the veteran was experiencing tiredness in his pitching shoulder. Pettitte especially felt the fatigue in his start last Friday against Baltimore when he when he threw 103 pitches while laboring through five innings.

Pettitte probably could have thrown on Wednesday against Toronto. But the Yankees want to be cautious with Pettitte after pain in the same shoulder hampered him during the second half last season. Pettitte went 2-7 with a 6.23 ERA in his final 11 starts of 2008. He said last year's problems began with an ache similar to what he felt in his most recent outing, but he's not worried because he has no pain this time.

Still, the Yankees want to be careful with a proven playoff pitcher who could be crucial to their World Series aspirations. The 37-year-old lefty has been one of the team's most consistent starters all year, going 13-6 with a 4.14 ERA for the AL East leaders. He has thrown 178 1-3 innings in 29 starts.

By the time he takes the mound Monday, it'll be 10 days since Pettitte's last start.

"I'm anxious to see how he does," Girardi said. "You want to know that one of your horses is in really good shape when he goes out there Monday and you hope that the 10 days rest got him over that hump and he'll go on another roll like he was on."

New York could afford to be cautious with Pettitte this week thanks to its comfortable cushion in the division. The Yankees began Friday seven games ahead of second-place Boston and 6 1/2 in front of the Angels in the race for the league's best record and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Pettitte said his shoulder felt so good during his throwing session on Friday that he found himself holding back to make sure he didn't overexert himself. He also threw long-toss on Thursday.

"I hope I can just get back in a good rhythm with all my pitches. Before I skipped this last one I was feeling pretty comfortable with all my pitches, and that's all I really care about getting back into the routine as far as that," Pettitte said. "But we have nothing wrapped up. It's important to go out and pitch well and get this thing wrapped up."

Getting confirmation that Pettitte is healthy and pitch deep into games would relieve one stress for Girardi as the postseason quickly approaches. The Yankees second-year manager said that some in the front-office are looking ahead to how a playoff roster might look, but that Girardi is trying not to look too far ahead until a playoff spot is wrapped up.

Depending on how the weekend breaks down, New York could have a playoff spot clinched before leaving Seattle.

"I think there are decisions still to be made. ... You have a pretty good idea of who 22, 23 guys are, but there are some decisions to be made," Girardi said. "The guys upstairs know I don't like to get too ahead of myself, but we've talked about it, different scenarios."