NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have pushed back veteran Andy Pettitte's scheduled Sunday start as he deals with back spasms. The team and the southpaw hope Pettitte will benefit from extra rest and pitch Tuesday or Wednesday against Arizona.
"I would love to just go out there and try to pitch, and I'll get through it like I got through it in Cleveland," Pettitte told reporters Friday before the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles. "They're not going to allow me to do it with an opportunity to push me back several days."
Pettitte, 40, first noticed his back flaring up during his start April 9 against Cleveland, although the veteran gutted through seven innings of one-run ball.
He said he felt it in the center of his back and felt a little sore the next day, but he felt great Thursday as he threw his bullpen session and went through his normal routine, including his upper-body workout.
Thursday night, as Pettitte attempted to get up from a couch, he felt his back lock up on him, specifically his lower back. He quickly informed the team, and his start was postponed. Pettitte said his back is still a little locked up.
With Pettitte being pushed back, the Yankees will use Phil Hughes on Saturday, who originally was going to be skipped in the rotation due to the back-to-back rainouts Wednesday and Thursday in Cleveland. Hiroki Kuroda, previously scheduled to start Saturday, will pitch Sunday.
"Obviously, it's not quite as good as I thought it was, even though I got good and loose for my bullpen in Cleveland and I felt great. If it was perfect, something wouldn't have happened last night to me," Pettitte said. "Hopefully, I can rest it here a few days. We believe it's a muscle spasm, so hopefully it calms down and I don't have any more problems with it."
Pettitte has battled injuries over the past few seasons, as he last made a full season's worth of starts in 2009 when he tossed 32 games for the Yankees. In 2010, he had just 21 starts, and last year, after returning from retirement, he pitched just 12 games because of a fractured fibula. Pettitte has been the Yankees' best starter this season, as he's 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA.
"It's frustrating," Pettitte said. "I had seven weeks of spring training, not one problem. It is a worry for me because I want to be healthy and I want to make my starts, but I also know that it's also a muscle spasm and if it goes away I'm going to be fine to pitch. I'm glad it's not like that we are in a bind as far as needing a starter to get out there and throw Sunday night."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the team is being extra cautious because of Pettitte's age, and he hopes that this will be a one-time injury. Girardi acknowledged that the team expected Pettitte might not be able to give them a whole season's worth of starts.
"You have to anticipate that a little bit," Girardi said. "I think it is pretty tough to get 32 starts out of a young guy, in a sense, a guy who hasn't logged as many innings as he has. Our hope is that you get somewhere between 28 and 30 starts."
The Yankees are 4-4 entering Friday's series opener against Baltimore and have won three straight.