Andy Pettitte forced from Thursday's game against Seattle with tight left trapezius muscle
"We had no tests, doc right now is saying it was just a muscle spasm, and it's not that tight right now and nothing's really hurting," Pettitte said after the game. "I'm not sure (if I'll miss time); obviously I'm realistic, but I'm hoping it's a spasm and it settles down. I can't tell you I've ever had this before, because I haven't, but my back isn't tight right now, it's nice and loose, so I think that's a good sign."
After striking out Kyle Seager for the second out of the fifth, Pettitte appeared to grimace a bit on the mound. That brought manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue out to check on the southpaw, and after a lengthy conversation, Pettitte left and was replaced by Shawn Kelley.
"His trap just kind of had a knot in it, and to me it was affecting his velocity, which is why I took him out," Girardi said. "It's muscular, but I don't know what that means moving forward."
Girardi said that Pettitte told him prior to going out for the fifth inning that he had "a little spasm" in the muscle, and the lefty said after the game that it locked up completely at the end of the fourth but he got a massage that "loosened it up real good."
"I think it was bothering me a little before that, and it just continued to get a little worse until it locked up completely at the end of the fourth," Pettitte said. "I got a little massage with some heat that loosened it up real good, but after the first pitch I threw to Bay it completely locked back up on me and was really tight; I couldn't get extended at all and felt like I was cutting everything off."
"He works through a lot when he goes out there, but when I saw the arm speed, I got concerned," Girardi said. "There's a lot of times during the course of a game where pitchers get extra heat and go out there and pitch, that's part of the game, but every time a guy feels something, you watch how they throw the baseball; a lot of times it's not a big deal, but tonight, I saw the drop in velocity and that was the concern."
Still, Pettitte recorded those back-to-back strikeouts in the fifth and tried to convince the skipper to let him finish the inning to no avail.
"He said 'I just got two outs, let me try to get one more'," Girardi said of Pettitte, "but I said no, because if he really hurts himself, he might be out for a long time as opposed to missing a start or not even anything."
The veteran southpaw did miss a start earlier this year with spasms in his lower back, but neither he nor the manager believed that the two issues were connected by anything more than surface area.
"I'm not a doctor, but that was in my lower back, and this is up in my neck right near my shoulder blade," Pettitte said. "Could they be related? I wouldn't think so, but you hear people say everything's connected back there, so I'm not real sure."
Despite all that, Pettitte said he feels really good, and is puzzled as to why he's had so many "minor hiccups" as he called them so far in 2013.
"I would think that at the intense level I had to compete at last year, that if things were going to break down or go wrong, it would've been last year," Pettitte said. "I went through a full Spring Training last year, and my body felt as good as it's ever felt before I broke my leg…I guess anyone can jump to conclusions, but I look around the league and I see a lot of guys on the DL who are younger than me. It's baseball, and it's tough on the body. There's no doubt I'm getting old, but I don't want to sit here and say that's the reason why."
One thing Pettitte did say, however, is that despite feeling good after every bullpen he throws, he might need to tone down an increased workload between starts.
"I feel pretty good, and I've been doing my work, but maybe I need to back off my bullpens a little bit; I throw two bullpens in between, and it's been a battle, there's no doubt. My command just hasn't been what I expect it to be, so I don't know if something's causing that, but it's frustrating."