Pettitte's latest bullpen session encouraging

Pettitte's latest bullpen session encouraging

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte took another encouraging step in his return from a strained left groin, tossing an intensive bullpen session on Wednesday.

Pettitte threw about 30 warmup pitches, sat down for roughly five minutes and then proceeded to throw another 25 or so pitches. Pitching coach Dave Eiland described the side session as "about as high an intensity as you can in the bullpen."

"I felt good. I had no discomfort in there at all," Pettitte said. "It was a great day as far as I was concerned."

This is the third bullpen session Pettitte has thrown since he was sat down for a week following a mid-August setback. He threw Friday and Sunday in Chicago, saying the intensity of his Sunday bullpen session allowed him to make even more progress on Wednesday by sitting down in the middle of his session.

Pettitte said he was able to push hard off the mound on Wednesday, and he even reached the point where he could focus more on release point and his mechanics than simply the health of his legs. He did admit that he was still just a little tentative in his first group of warmup pitches, but he felt better once he sat down and started throwing again.

The next step for Pettitte will include an actual hitter in the batters' box, with the left-hander scheduled to throw a simulated game on Saturday morning.

"When you get a hitter in there, it's a little bit different. You know what you're trying to do," Pettitte said.

"We feel he's on the right path," Eiland said.

Of course, that depends on how Pettitte feels on Thursday. He said that he felt "tender" after his last bullpen session for a day, and he expects a little bit of usual soreness on Thursday before hopefully feeling good on Friday.

Pettitte did say that he would make a rehab start "for sure" before returning to the Yankees' rotation. That could come sometime next week, if Pettitte's simulated game goes well.