Andy Pettitte's road to a comeback has, so far, hit no potholes and— after throwing another short bullpen session Thursday— is in preparation to throw a simulated game this Sunday.
The New York Yankee pitcher's return is still a work in progress but, depending on how his body feels next week, the lefthander could make his comeback debut in the spring season finale against the New York Mets on Wednesday.
"We have to kind of see how he feels at the time," said manager Joe Girardi when asked if Pettitte's arm was ready for the workload. "If it is, we'll try to use him."
The 39-year-old Pettitte claims it is not necessary for him to pitch in a big-league exhibition game before spring training ends but, with five throwers vying for the final three spots in the rotation, Girardi probably wants to see him throw a real game before the season starts.
"I know he has a simulated game coming up in the next few days," said Girardi. "I'm not sure if he is going to [Miami] with us. I think he is going to stay back [Tampa]."
The Yankees open a two-game series with the Marlins on Sunday night.
Pettitte has impressed everyone so far— even after coming out of retirement a few weeks into camp. With Pettitte, there was never any doubt about his work ethic.
"When I watched his BP the other day, I thought he located his pitches well," Girardi said. "He's progressing okay. You've got to see how he feels after his starts. I have been happy with what I've seen."
After sitting out the 2011 season, Pettitte's return to the major league was expected to be around May 1. Girardi hasn't committed to that date— especially with over a month to go.
"Obviously, a bullpen is a bullpen, and then you start throwing a simulated game and the intensity picks up," said the manager. "Then you start throwing in a real game and it's even more where you're having to run and cover bases and all that."
In other words, it's still wait and see.