Pettitte exited his start Wednesday against the Orioles after just five innings and 77 pitches, complaining of stiffness near his pitching elbow, and the resulting MRI was largely regarded as positive news.
Still, the Yankees are deciding to play it safe with the 37-year-old. Pettitte will not start on Tuesday against the Tigers in Detroit, with Javier Vazquez pushed back to get that nod. Long reliever Sergio Mitre will pitch on Monday at Comerica Park.
"I understand why they're doing it," Pettitte said. "It's just hard when I feel really good and don't feel like anything's bothering me right now, and I'm being skipped."
Pettitte first felt tightness in his April 30 start against the White Sox and skipped a bullpen session before taking the mound against the Orioles on Wednesday. Treatment had helped the stiffness and Pettitte pleaded his case to stay on turn, to no avail.
"He didn't want to skip a start. He didn't," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He wanted to pitch. But we just feel like it's in the best interests of him and the whole club that we skip a start."
Pitching coach Dave Eiland said the decision was made under doctors' recommendations and that he was not surprised that Pettitte was upset by the decision. He said that it's a pitcher's nature to want the ball every turn.
"I did it when I pitched," Eiland said. "Your competitive nature says, 'I can pitch through this.' There are some things you have to pitch through. There are also things that it's just not worth taking a chance on.
"There's nothing structurally wrong [with Pettitte] -- it's a muscle thing. But if you try to push it too far -- What if you pull something? What if you strain something? That's what we're guarding against."
Pettitte said that the only effect of the stiffness was that it bothered him to throw curveballs for the first few innings, but that it eventually loosened up. His main gripe was that the Yankees seemed to have made the decision during Thursday's off-day without his input.
"I would have loved to have been able to throw -- come in and play catch or something, and see how I feel," Pettitte said.
Mitre was selected because he is stretched out enough to throw 65 to 75 pitches against the Tigers. Girardi said that one positive effect of the flip-flop is that Vazquez, a more experienced hitter, now lines up to pitch a May 21 Interleague game against the Mets.
Pettitte wishes that it all hadn't been necessary. He hoped that the MRI would not show damage to the same flexor tendon that required season-ending surgery in 2004, and when it didn't, his spirits were buoyed.
"I'll pitch with anything else," Pettitte said. "As long [it's not] my ligament where my surgery was, that was all I was concerned about. ... I knew I hadn't injured anything like that, because I knew what that feels like."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.