By HOWIE RUMBERG, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ The New York Yankees pushed back Andy Pettitte’s next scheduled start a few days because the left-hander is experiencing back spasms.
The Yankees said Phil Hughes will start Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles and Hiroki Kuroda will move back a day to get the ball in Pettitte’s place Sunday. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Pettitte should be ready Tuesday or Wednesday.
“It’s frustrating,” Pettitte said Friday before the Yankees played the Baltimore Orioles. “I had seven weeks of spring training, not one problem. It is a worry for me because I want to be healthy and I want to make my starts, but I also know that it’s also a muscle spasm and if it goes away I’m going to be fine to pitch. I’m glad it’s not like that we are in a bind as far as needing a starter to get out there and throw Sunday night.”
New York has flexibility in its rotation because its previous two games were postponed by rain. Hughes was set to start Thursday and he was going to be skipped in order to keep Kuroda and Pettitte on target.
The 40-year-old Pettitte felt a spasm in the middle of his back during his start Tuesday against Cleveland. Still, he pitched seven impressive innings and improved to 2-0 this season.
“Hopefully it’s just a one-time event,” Girardi said.
Pettitte then felt “great” Wednesday and went ahead with his normal bullpen session and workout Thursday in Cleveland with no issues. His lower back seized up when he tried getting up from his couch later that evening.
“I would love to just go out there and try to pitch and I’ll get through it like I got through it in Cleveland,” Pettitte said. “They’re not going to allow me to do it with an opportunity to push me back several days.”
Girardi hopes to get 28-30 starts out of Pettitte, not the 33 they would hope for a pitcher who hasn’t logged as many innings as Pettitte has in his 18th season, second since returning from a one-year retirement.
Also, Yankees captain Derek Jeter (ankle surgery) took batting practice on the field and grounders at shortstop at the Yankees facility in Tampa, Fla. He even did a few slower-speed spin moves on balls up the middle.
AP freelance writer Mark Didtler contributed to this report from Tampa, Fla.
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