It was not quite a simulated game, but hours before first pitch, Andy
Pettitte took the final steps toward returning to the mound Tuesday
night against the Blue Jays.


He started by long-tossing in front
of the Yankee dugout before heading to the mound. Once there, he threw
to catcher Francisco Cervelli, while bullpen coach Mike Harkey stood in
the batters’ box for a time. Pettitte also did some pitcher’s fielding
practice, covering first base and practicing pickoffs.


“He did great,” Girardi said. “The bullpen was good. He felt better covering the bases, so everything’s a go for Tuesday.”


threw 55 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday in Boston and told
reporters he felt fine and that his stuff has been crisp.


think he’s been really pretty sharp considering the layoff that he has
had,” Girardi said. “In the simulated game, I was very pleased with the
way he threw the baseball. So I expect that will carry over to Tuesday.”


who last started for the Yankees on June 27 against Cleveland, will be
limited to roughly 70 to 75 pitches. Tuesday is expected to be the first
of four starts for Pettitte over the final two weeks of the regular

Jeter plays through ankle issue

Derek Jeter famously tight-lipped on how he is feeling health-wise,
Girardi instead attempts to decipher body language when gauging if his
captain can play.

“I can look him in the eyes and I can usually
tell,” Girardi said. “I think he feels better today than he did
yesterday. But as I’ve said, it’s always that one baserunning, lunge or
whatever it is that can cause it to get really sore.”

Girardi penciled Jeter in as the team’s designated hitter for the 20th time this season.

“There is no way to exactly determine how I can deal with this,” Girardi said. “It’s really a day-to-day basis.”

was somewhat more forthcoming than Jeter, who gave a brief lighthearted
interview to reporters around his locker. Jeter reiterated that he does
not like talking about injuries

“I don’t talk about it,” Jeter
said. “You either play or you don’t. I’m playing so it’s not an issue to
talk about or discuss. I’ve always been that way. I’m not going to
change. You either play or you don’t. That’s the way I’ve always looked
at it.”

Jeter started at DH Thursday and got the only Yankee hit with runners in scoring position.

look at what he did last night -- we won a game 2-0 and he had one of
the RBI,” Girardi said. “So if I don’t have him in there, is it a
one-run game? I don’t know. Could it have been different? Sure. But as I
said, there has been DHs in 2-0 games that are slower than him and we
want him out there. So it’s something we have to determine that we can

The hit Thursday gave him 3,283 in his career, which tied him with Willie Mays for 10th place on the all-time list.

Nova excited about return

Ivan Nova was asked how excited he was to return to the rotation for
the first since Aug. 21, he gave a one-word answer: “mucho.”

“Today it feels like I’m pitching today but I’m excited [about coming back],” he said.

landing on the DL with right rotator cuff inflammation, he was 1-4 with
a 7.28 ERA in eight starts. He had been 10-3 with a 3.92 ERA before the

Nova said he did not alter anything with his mechanics, but worked on arm exercises.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.