I was positive that I wouldn’t be writing about that mound being the one that sits 60 feet, six inches away from the plate at Waterfront Park.
And yet, here we are, on March 22nd, wondering out loud if the legendary lefty will be making a tune-up start or two in Trenton. It’s certainly possible. YES Network scribe Jack Curry broke the story — despite what you may have seen from ESPN, of course – and ever since then, speculation has been pretty rampant about what Pettitte’s plan will be.
Pettitte recently told New York reporters that he could be ready in as soon as three weeks, but was urged by Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild to slow down. Regardless, that’s a pretty good sign that he’ll be on a mound somewhere sooner rather than later.
You may remember that the 39-year-old appeared in two postseason games for the Thunder in 2010. He faced New Hampshire in the ELDS in the capital city and made the trip to Altoona to take on the Curve in the ELCS. There was no reason to think those weren’t his last minor league games.
Instead, a glance at the 2012 Thunder schedule reveals 13 home dates in April, including a six-game homestand to start the season that goes from April 5-11 (skipping April 8). More realistically, however, the club’s seven-game homestand from April 19-26 (skipping April 23) seems like the timeframe in which Pettitte could appear there if, in fact, that is the team’s plan for him.
The front office certainly wouldn’t be opposed to me telling you that the schedule for those aforementioned contests is as follows:
4/19 vs. Harrisburg, 7:05 PM
4/20 vs. Harrisburg, 7:05 PM
4/21 vs. Harrisburg, 5:05 PM
4/22 vs. Harrisburg, 1:05 PM
4/24 vs. Erie, 7:05 PM
4/25 vs. Erie, 7:05 PM
4/26 vs. Erie, 10:35 AM
The cringe-worthy nature of the game being on the 26th aside (it would be played in front of a bunch of kids who wouldn’t know Andy Pettitte from Andy Dick and it wouldn’t even sell out given it’s a mid-week morning start) that’s a pretty a big window of opportunity. It’s around this point in the story in which you start asking me when the Yankees other affiliates are home.
Scranton, well…yeah, they won’t be home until 2013, so shall we move on to Charleston and Tampa?
Charleston’s home dates: 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd
Tampa’s April home dates: 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th
In reality, the real threat here would be Tampa’s schedule, since Pettitte may just want to stay down at the team complex (or maybe even just throw in extended spring training, to be honest…but we’ll just pretend I didn’t say that for the purposes if this story, OK? OK.).
But, assuming you didn’t misremember how Roger Clemens did his tune-up tour in 2007, this all may not matter. Clemens made one stop at each Yankees affiliate from Low-A on up to Triple-A (he never actually pitched for Charleston, but did visit later in the year). However, the latest he could start a tune-up tour (and remember, with Pettitte on a minor league deal, he wouldn’t be on the 40-man roster and a move would need to be made to get him on each team’s squad…literally a minor detail, but still) and pitch every five days and visit every city would be April 11th. Pettitte could start with the RiverDogs on 4/11, go to Tampa on 4/16 and then pitch for Trenton on 4/21 and possibly the dreaded 4/26 game.
Were he to instead visit the…sigh…Empire State Yankees that day, he’d be pitching a “home game” for Lehigh Valley that night. Given the proximity of that park to Trenton and even New York, seems like a feasible scenario, no? Regardless of where he pitched on the 26th, that would put him on pace to return to a Major League mound on May 1. The Yankees are home that night against Baltimore.
If Pettitte were to not make a start in Charleston, which is certainly very possible, he could start his tune-up tour in Tampa as late as the 17th, then visit Trenton on the 22nd and pitch in Lehigh Valley on the 27th, which would still have his big league return taking place on May 2 at home.
I don’t know what he’s going to do. He probably doesn’t at this point, either. But how do you guys think this plays out?
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com