Andy Pettitte acknowledged a few weeks ago he might have to alter his routine between starts and when he did so, he often used the phrase “creature of habit” to describe the difficulty of doing so.
Manager Joe Girardi used the same phrase as he discussed Pettitte before last night’s game.
“He’s talked about backing off maybe a little in between starts but it’s hard when you’re a creature of habit,” Girardi said. “When you’ve had as much success as he’s had over time, it’s hard to change what you do. But I think it’s important that he does maybe a little bit. He’s a real worker in between starts and it’s not just the day after or the second day, it’s every day and I think he has to deal with it.”
Pettitte will return to the mound Monday against Cleveland for the first time since his backed locked up two batters into the fifth inning on May 14 against Seattle. After getting hurt, he rested for seven days before resuming throwing.
To prepare for his return start, Pettitte said he threw only one bullpen session. He also said that doing so in the future will be based more on feel after he consults with pitching coach Larry Rothchild and the training staff.
“I feel like I haven’t had any work really,” Pettitte said. “I’m not a power guy. I’m kind of touch and feel, so I just feel like [two bullpens] really helps me. We’ll see. I’m not really sure.
“I’m going to want to throw my bullpens because I enjoy getting on the mound and I enjoy working. I’ll just have to see. We’ll see how it feels. It’ll be something that I kind of talk through with Larry and the trainers and stuff like that.
Pettitte is 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in eight starts and will be looking for his 250th career victory. Before injuring himself, he allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings at Kansas City, following a three-start stretch where he felt he had little command of his cut fastball.
“I want to go out there and get going again, get on a good roll,” Pettitte said. “I want to go out there and be consistent. You saw that I’ve been doing that when I’ve been pitching over the last few years.”
The fortunes of the Yankees this weekend have mostly been dictated by how their pitchers perform with two strikes.
On Friday night, CC Sabathia struck out 10 in 7 1/3 innings and Yankee pitchers held the Red Sox to two hits in 21 at-bats after getting to strike two.
A night later, the story was vastly different. Phil Hughes, who often struggles to put away hitters, threw 36 of his 100 pitches after getting two strikes on a batter. The most notable instance occurred in the third inning when he gave up three two-strike hits, leading to an intentional walk of David Ortiz.
Hughes got ahead of Mike Napoli 0-2, but couldn’t finish him and on the sixth pitch Napoli clubbed a grand slam.
“It was in a spot he could handle and he saw a lot of fastballs,” Hughes said. “Just one of those things, it got a little bit more of the plate than I wanted.”
111-year-old fan attends game
The most interesting thing from Saturday’s 11-1 loss was actually in the stands as 111-year-old Bernando LaPallo attended the game and sat behind home plate.
LaPallo was born Aug. 17, 1901, which is two years before the Yankees played their first game as the Highlanders at Hilltop Park, located on the current site of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital at 168th and Broadway.
Asked what he remembered about the first of four home ballparks for the Yankees, he said, “It was nothing like this,”
LaPallo was a guest of the team and watched the Yankees take fielding and batting practice on the field. He chatted with Derek Jeter after the Yankee captain finished playing catch and also said Mariano Rivera is his favorite player.
LaPallo also spoke of first meeting Babe Ruth when he was still pitching for the Red Sox and again when the Yankees acquired him in 1920.
“I shook his hand and he said, 'My greatest admirer, my youngest admirer,'" LaPallo said. "I remember that like yesterday."
He was also shown on the FOX broadcast and Joe Buck told the viewers to guess his age while discussing him.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.