NEW YORK (AP) – Andy Pettitte will be back on the mound in the Bronx on Sunday, and the New York Yankees are hoping he can again be a reliable presence in their rotation.
Pettitte is set to start against the Seattle Mariners in his first major league outing since retiring after the 2010 postseason.
“I think it will be a great day at the Stadium,” manager Joe Girardi said.
The lefty, who turns 40 next month, returned to the team in spring training and has made four minor league starts. Even though Pettitte was shaky over five innings in a Triple-A start Sunday, general manager Brian Cashman says the time is right.
“I think everybody’s in agreement that he’s not going to really benefit from any more time down there,” Cashman said.
One thing the Yankees management does agree on is the rotation needs help. Expected to be a strong part of the team after the addition of Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda in the offseason, the Yankees’ rotation has struggled this to a 5.54 ERA and a .292 opponents’ batting average – only Minnesota and Colorado have worse averages against.
Pineda is out for season following shoulder surgery and Freddy Garcia was demoted to the bullpen. Rookie David Phelps is scheduled to make his second start against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, then is a likely candidate to return to the bullpen. But Girardi would not say whose spot Pettitte will take.
Pettitte is 240-138 in 13 years with the Yankees and three with Houston. He was a steady force in the Yankees’ rotation for five World Series championships and is a fan favorite as one of the Core Four with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.
Cashman, though, is trying to be realistic in his expectations for Pettitte, who will be making his first big league start in 573 days, since Game 3 of the AL championship series against Texas on Oct. 18, 2010.