NEW YORK -- A week of rest has paid off for Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte, who underwent X-rays on his fractured left ankle on Sunday. While Pettitte has not been cleared to throw off a mound just yet, manager Joe Girardi said that Pettitte's condition has improved since a week ago, when the Yankees were worried the 40-year-old had suffered a setback.
"He just continues to do what he's doing," Girardi said of Pettitte's next step. "He plays catch, and we'll try to keep him exercising his legs the best he can. Hopefully, it just continues to go the right direction."
Pettitte's previous X-rays came the day the team returned from its West Coast trip, during which Pettitte's ankle became swollen from overuse. The results weren't what Pettitte or the doctors would have liked. While tests on the ankle after two weeks were mostly positive, Pettitte said the four-week check-in on July 27 didn't go as well as the doctors were hoping.
"I think I might have done a little bit too much, and that was frustrating for me and kind of scared me," Pettitte said. "It's just a matter of this homestand, we just wanted to make sure I kind of back off whatever I was doing and just try to let this thing heal up as good as it can."
The swelling around Pettitte's ankle is still bothersome when he walks, and for that reason, Pettitte has been taking it easy during the Yankees' homestand. He shut down his rehab for the first four days after the road trip, and lately, he's been arriving at Yankee Stadium later, swimming in the pool, riding a bike and playing catch in the bullpen off flat ground. He hasn't tried to play long toss or push his activity to the next level after the scare in Seattle.
"I just have no idea as far as how this thing will feel when I lift up and try to load my leg and put all my weight and push down on the mound," Pettitte said. "I just have no idea."
Sunday's X-rays were reassuring, as they gave Pettitte some indication that the bone in his ankle is healing correctly. Pettitte still believes he's on track to return in September, despite the frustrating developments during the Yankees' road trip. He initially suffered the injury on June 27, taking a comebacker off the ankle. Doctors have said from the start that that the injury should take 60 days to heal, but the setback gave Pettitte reason to worry he might have to delay his return. Those nerves can be quelled for the time being.
"You tell the player, 'You're frustrated, but it takes time. You have to let the body do its thing,' Girardi said. "The body never heals quick enough for a player or organization. That's just the bottom line. I think Andy thought that he was going to be back on the mound in three or four weeks, but it's not realistic. In a player's mind, that is realistic."