Andy Pettitte will rehab with Thunder Thursday
TRENTON _ After nearly a month of speculation and setbacks, Andy Pettitte is on his way to Double-A Trenton.
The Yankees left-hander and future Hall of Fame candidate will start Game 2 of the Eastern League Divisional Playoffs for the Thunder Thursday against New Hampshire at Waterfront Park.
Out since July 18 with a strained groin and hip flexor, Pettitte was cleared to throw 60-65 pitchers or four innings for the Thunder following a successful 20-pitch bullpen session prior to today’s 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at the Stadium.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said there is a chance Pettitte will make two minor league starts before returning to the rotation, but Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre also is in the postseason and could serve as Pettitte’s final stop.
“If he gets to 65 pitches (in the first rehab start), then the area of concern the next time is 65 to 80 (pitches,” Girardi said. “So, if he’s at 75, then you know he should be fine all the way up to 75, and then you start to get a little bit worried if he gets fatigued (beyond 75 pitches).”
Dellin Betances will start Game 1 for the Eastern Division champion Thunder (83-59), which wrapped up the regular season today with a 5-2 victory over New Britain.
Adam Warren likely will get pushed back to Game 3 at Merchantsauto.com stadium, and it is not yet known who will be first in relief of Pettitte Thursday.
Manager Tony Franklin, snubbed for EL Manager of the Year honors for the third time in four years despite three division championships and two league titles, is expected to lock in his playoff rotation sometime today.
It was a good news, bad news day for Trenton Monday as the pending arrival of one of the most clutch postseason pitchers in Major League Baseball history was offset by the departure of the club’s hottest hitter.
Outfielder Justin Christian took his 19-game hitting streak to Scranton yesterday, putting yet more pressure on Austin Krum, Dan Brewer, Marcos Vechionacci and Austin Romine to deliver against a New Hampshire team that is 16-7 against the Thunder this season, and that includes a 10-3 mark at Sam Plumeri Sr. Field.
Christian batted .297 with 21 doubles and nine home runs in 87 games. Four of those homers came during the four-game, season-ending homestand against Akron last week.
Taylor Grote will join the Thunder from Single-A Charleston, where the outfielder batted .276 with seven doubles and a pair of home runs.
Pettitte, 38, is 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 18 starts this season.