Yankees' Andy Pettitte Anxious For Statement Start on Monday

Much like the Red Sox are looking toward Monday to help them gauge Tim Wakefield‘s potential for postseason success, the Yankees are looking toward Monday to help them gauge whether Andy Pettitte will be a factor for them in the postseason.

The veteran left-hander will start on Monday in a big series against the AL West-leading Angels, making his first appearance since being scratched on Wednesday due to a tired left shoulder, according to ESPN.com. Last time out against Baltimore, Pettitte threw 103 pitches in five difficult innings, and while he thinks he could have started on Wednesday, the Yankees are being especially cautious with him because pain in the same shoulder seriously hampered the second half of his 2008 season. He finished with a 2-8 record and a 6.23 ERA in his final 11 starts last year and said that his problems in 2008 stemmed from something similar to what he felt during his last start.

When he does return, Pettitte doesn’t want to be riddled by an injury. He wants to be strong, and he wants to feel healthy.

“Monday will be good,” he said. “I’ll be happy when I get through Monday and don’t have any problems. I want to stand on the mound in the sixth and seventh inning and still feel strong, and they haveto come pull me.”

After throwing a regular bullpen session without any problems on Friday, though, Pettitte told ESPN.com he isn’t worried. He is just looking forward to helping the Yanks secure the AL East title.

“I hope I can just get back in a good rhythm with all my pitches,” he said. “Before I skipped this last one I was feeling pretty comfortable with all my pitches, and that’s all I really care about getting back into the routine as far as that. But we have nothing wrapped up. It’s important to go out and pitch well and get this thing wrapped up.”

In 29 starts this year, the 37-year-old is 13-6 with a 4.14 ERA.