Notes: Pettitte feeling much better

Notes: Pettitte feeling much better

CHICAGO -- A jabbing sensation in Andy Pettitte's back set in during his third inning of work Sunday at Fenway Park, prompting the left-hander to stall for time by straightening out his socks and doing some on-field stretching.

One day after Pettitte was forced out of his start against the Red Sox by a five-run fifth inning and recurring back spasms, he was pleased to find his body responding better than expected.

"I'm encouraged the way it feels today," said Pettitte, who will move his scheduled bullpen session back one day to Wednesday, but expects to make his next start Friday against the Pirates in New York.

"It feels like it's a similar area than it was when I hurt it in Spring Training, but in Spring Training, I couldn't bend over for two weeks. I felt real good today."

Pettitte felt the pinch on his third-inning pitch to Wily Mo Pena, which resulted in a deep, twisting fly ball that Melky Cabrera ran down deep in center field.

Pettitte attempted to work through the issues until the Red Sox started to hit him hard in the fifth inning, but one city later, he was still at a loss to explain exactly what he'd done to cause the spasm.

"I was concerned because I've been throwing so good," Pettitte said. "You don't want to have anything causing any kind of scuffling out there. Really, once it happened, the big thing for me was that I wanted to make sure I didn't aggravate it to have me out for a longer period of time."

Yankees manager Joe Torre said he made it clear to Pettitte that it is not necessary he make his start Friday if he's not completely ready. Pettitte will be subjected to heat and ice therapy to make that possible, and the team is encouraged even by small signs such as Pettitte's ability to sit upright on the trainer's table.

"He's a lot more comfortable today than I anticipated he would be," Torre said.

Reach out for Rocket: Pettitte said he spoke on Saturday with Roger Clemens, who returned to Tampa, Fla., for an MRI exam that revealed disrupted scar tissue in his right groin.

Pettitte said that Clemens offered verbal clues that he might need to ask out because of the injury.

"I could tell he was feeling like he might need to miss his start on Monday," Pettitte said. "I was trying to encourage him not to do anything that would set him back for a period of time."

Whenever Clemens does join the Yankees -- signs indicate it may be as soon as Saturday against the Pirates -- the club will offer a top four starting rotation of Pettitte, Clemens, Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina. Pettitte said the promise of that staff was spirited.

"It'll be exciting," Pettitte said. "I'm just looking forward to being able to do that. We'll do it for an extended period of time and see what'll happen."

Alex's upcoming respite: Torre said that he has seen signs that Alex Rodriguez -- who hit a ninth-inning home run off Boston's Jonathan Papelbon to lift the Yankees to victory Sunday -- has been strained lately by attention paid to his actions, both on the field and off the field.

Partially because of this, Torre plans to find a day in the Yankees' upcoming schedule where Rodriguez will be utilized as a designated hitter or may not play at all, giving him a chance to catch his breath and step away from the nine innings on the field.

"Things have been swirling around," Torre said. "[The game] is a place you can go hide out there, but it's not easy to do that for everybody. I think he's got a lot on his plate right now."

One for the bench: The Yankees will make a roster move before Tuesday's game to add a position player -- likely returning reliever Chris Britton to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- but Torre wasn't letting on about whom the team was considering.

"We want to probably have that person give us some flexibility," Torre said. "That's what we're talking about right now."

The callup would ostensibly take the roster spot of first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list before Monday's game and is expected to be out of action for at least six to eight weeks.

The names of Andy Phillips, who was a contender to make the team in Spring Training, and utility man Chris Basak have been floated as possibilities.

Melky way: When word came that Jason Giambi would receive a walking boot instead of a cortisone shot to treat his ailing left foot, bench coach Don Mattingly took Cabrera aside and delivered an important message.

With Johnny Damon shifting to fill the role of designated hitter, Mattingly relayed the trust the organization has in Cabrera to step up and be a contributing part of the club. The talk, as described by Torre, largely centered around the idea of Cabrera not giving the Yankees any reason to take him out of the lineup.

So far, it has worked. Cabrera has eight hits in his last 13 at-bats entering play Monday and had three consecutive multihit games, while also playing strong defensively.

"He seems to not be looking over his shoulder right now," Torre said.

Weis guys: Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis stopped by the Yankees' clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday, meeting and greeting players along with some young guests.

The former offensive coordinator and a three-time Super Bowl winner with the NFL's New England Patriots, Weis told Torre of his experiences accepting heat for being a loyal Yankees supporter in Red Sox country.

"I didn't realize how down-to-earth and what a crazy Yankees fan he is," Torre said. "He said that during his time in New England, he always stood up and took the hit for everybody who was a closet Yankees fan."

Coming up: The Yankees and White Sox play the second contest of their four-game series Tuesday. Rookie right-hander Tyler Clippard (2-1, 4.20 ERA) goes for the Bombers, while left-hander Mark Buehrle (2-2, 3.66 ERA) counters for Chicago, with first pitch set for 8:11 p.m. ET on the YES Network.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.