Andy Pettitte wants to pitch. He’s just not sure how long his left elbow will cooperate.
The Astros will be keeping a close watch on Pettitte when he takes the mound in the middle game of their series with the Cincinnati Reds.
Before Pettitte gets his chance to pitch, the teams will complete Friday’s contest, which was suspended in the sixth inning due to rain.
The veteran left-hander has a small tendon tear in the elbow, an injury he aggravated Monday night against Arizona. Pettitte threw a short bullpen session Thursday and followed it up by playing long toss in the outfield before Friday’s game.
Afterward, he said he felt good, but needed to talk it over with manager Phil Garner.
“He says he still feels it a little bit,” Garner said. “It is not anything that he has not felt pitching with it before. I’ll check with him in the morning, but right now, we’re going to schedule him to go ahead and go with it.
“It continues to get a little bit better each day. It was better two days ago and it’s a little better now. I’m anticipating it’s going to be fine tomorrow.”
Injuries have limited Pettitte to just 13 starts since signing with his hometown Astros in the offseason. He was on the disabled list from April 7-29 with a left elbow strain, and again from May 27 to June 28 with a strained left forearm.
Pettitte and team officials are optimistic he’ll be able to contribute down the stretch as the Astros continue their quest for the NL wild card.
“The bottom line is I just want to be healthy enough to go out there and help this team,” Pettitte said. “We’re right in this thing, which is unbelievable the way things have gone. We have a chance, a real good chance.”
If Pettitte can’t make the start, manager Phil Garner will give the ball to recently acquired Darren Oliver. The 33-year-old left-hander has tossed five scoreless innings in three relief appearances since coming over from Florida on July 22 for a player to be named or cash.
Friday’s game will be picked up Saturday at 11:30 a.m. with the score tied at 2 and two Astros on base in the top of the sixth. Jeff Bagwell singled home the tying run just before the game’s third rain delay.
The regularly scheduled game for Saturday will then follow.
Adam Dunn hit his 29th home run for the Reds, who went into Friday having lost eight straight and 11 of 14.
STANDINGS (through July 29): Astros - 3rd place, 14 1/2 GB, NL Central. Reds - 4th place, 15 1/2 GB, NL Central.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Pettitte (6-4, 4.11 ERA). The 32-year-old left-hander was charged with the loss against Arizona, despite allowing just two runs and three hits. Pettitte has no record and a 2.25 ERA in two career starts against the Reds, allowing just nine hits in 12 innings.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Brandon Claussen (1-0, 5.23 ERA). Acquired from the New York Yankees at last year’s trade deadline for eventual postseason hero Aaron Boone, Claussen struggled in his second start with Cincinnati, allowing five runs and seven hits over just 3 1-3 innings in the Reds’ 6-5 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. The 25-year-old left-hander pitched seven solid innings against Milwaukee on July 20 in his Cincinnati debut.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Craig Biggio, .303 avg. and 68 runs; Lance Berkman, 17 HRs and 64 RBIs; Adam Everett, 12 SBs. Reds - Sean Casey, .334 avg. and 62 RBIs; Dunn, 29 HRs and 65 runs; Ryan Freel, 19 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Reds, 5-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - All-Star 2B Jeff Kent was suspended three games by the league on Friday for an altercation with the umpires in Milwaukee on Sunday. Kent, who is appealing the ban, is batting .290 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. … 1B Bagwell is a career .303 hitter with 44 home runs and 142 RBIs in 184 games against the Reds. … LHP Pettitte has pitched at least six innings in just five of his 13 starts this season. Reds - OF Darren Bragg agreed to a minor league deal with the Reds on Friday. Bragg opened the season in the New York Yankees’ minor league system, hitting .282 with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 70 games at Triple-A Columbus before he was released. He signed with San Diego on July 4 and went 1-for-7 in nine games before he was sent outright to Triple-A Portland. … Due to the rain Friday, SS Barry Larkin wasn’t able to test his strained left oblique in the field, but he was available to pinch-hit. … Late Friday the Reds traded RHP Todd Jones and minor league OF Brad Correll to Philadelphia for RHP Josh Hancock and minor league SS Anderson Machado.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 24-24 on the road; Reds - 28-21 at home.
INJURIES: Astros - RHP Wade Miller (shoulder), 15-day DL. Reds - INF Brandon Larson (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Ken Griffey Jr. (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Jason Romano (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Josh Hall (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Mike Matthews (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP D.J. Mattox (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Austin Kearns (thumb), 60-day DL.