The N.Y Yankees will add the winningest pitcher in postseason history to their roster just in time for the stretch run when Andy Pettitte returns to their rotation Tuesday night.
Pettitte, out of action since suffering a broken left ankle after being hit by a line drive off the bat of Casey Kotchman on June 27, will face the Blue Jays in the opener of a 3-game series at Yankee Stadium.
The decision came as something of a surprise. Manager Joe Girardi casually dropped it into his pregame press conference in the middle of a discussion about Derek Jeter’s health for Thursday night’s game against the Red Sox. It may be a suggestion of the team’s concern about keeping up with the Baltimore Orioles, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays again Thursday to drag a half-game ahead in the American League East, pending the outcome of Thursday night’s N.Y Yankees’ game.
According to Girardi, a conversation involving himself, Pettitte, GM Brian Cashman, trainer Steve Donohue and team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad came to a clear conclusion: “We feel that he’s ready to go. Is he going to give you 90 pitches? No. But 70 are somewhat realistic.” Football lines
Bringing Pettitte back now, when he is likely to give them up to 6 innings, seems as much pointed to getting him prepared for the postseason as it is to stabilizing the regular-season rotation in the midst of a tight divisional race.
“We feel we may have done another simulated game on Sunday and started him Friday,” Girardi related. “But this way, he possibly has 4 starts for us (before the regular season ends).”
Pettitte made 3 simulated starts in his rehab, including one which he threw 55 pitches.
“I think everyone’s been actually happy with my command in these simulated games,” Pettitte said. “I think that’s the reason why this able to happen.”
Pettitte will replace David Phelps in the Yankees’ rotation. Phelps, who pitched well and earned the win in Wednesday night’s 5-4 victory against the Boston Red Sox, will return to the bullpen as a long reliever.
“I can go and do another (simulated) start, but I’d hate to,” Pettitte announced. “I feel just like I can give y’all quality pitches, and I think they all think that also.”
After deciding to end his one year retirement in March, Pettitte made 9 starts for the New York Yankees and was pitching well at the time of his injury (3-3, 3.22 ERA).
“I feel just like I was in a really good place when I got hurt,” he claimed. “I was throwing all my pitches for strikes and I’m looking to get right back into that. I know how I want to attack hitters. Whatever pitches I got, I want them to be quality and hopefully give us a good outing.”
The return of Pettitte adds a seasoned vet to a club that has been destroyed by injuries, including a calf strain which has beginning 1st baseman Mark Teixeira sidelined indefinitely.
Pettitte is a tenacious rival who has won more games (19) in the postseason than any pitcher in baseball history.