Pettitte to start Tuesday vs. Blue Jays

Veteran lefty will replace David Phelps in Yankees rotation
09/13/2012 5:51 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Andy Pettitte's last start came June 27 against Cleveland at Yankee Stadium.(AP)

It’s official: Andy Pettitte will return to the Yankees next week.

Manager Joe Girardi announced during his pregame media conference Thursday that Pettitte will be activated to start Tuesday night against Toronto at Yankee Stadium, and the lefty will be on a pitch count of about 75 pitches.

Pettitte, who has been out of action since a line drive fractured his ankle on June 27, threw a 55-pitch simulated game at Fenway Park on Wednesday and declared that he was ready to return. Girardi, however, took a more cautious approach, playing down the possibility of a return by saying the team would wait until the veteran lefty was examined by a doctor.

Thursday, he wasn’t as coy.

“Andy’s going to start for us Tuesday,” Girardi said. “We had a discussion with the doctor, Cash (Yankees general manager Brian Cashman), (trainer) Stevie (Donohue), Andy obviously, (pitching coach) Larry (Rothschild) and I, and we feel he’s ready to go. Is he going to give you 90 pitches? No, but 70 is somewhat realistic.”

Girardi also said that while the team could have pushed back Pettitte’s return another few days to accommodate a second simulated game, the Yankees’ schedule – which includes an off-day Monday followed by 16 staright games in a row to end the season – also factored into the decision to activate him sooner.

“He gets an extra day’s rest here,” Girardi said, “and we could have done another simulated game Sunday and then started him next Friday, but this way he possibly has four starts for us.”

Pettitte will take the rotation spot of David Phelps, who started Wednesday night’s game against the Red Sox. Phelps will move back to the bullpen, but Girardi posited that because the 25-year-old righty would likely be unavailable until Sunday anyway, he could be held out until Tuesday and serve as a valuable piggyback for the pitch-limited Pettitte.

“It’s possible we’ll have him throw a light side tomorrow … but I would use him in a lot of different ways on Tuesday; I could use him for a couple innings, one inning if Andy was able to go five,” Girardi said.

Regardless of how far into Tuesday’s game he does go, Pettitte told the media on Thursday that he’s just happy to be back and be able to contribute down the stretch.

“I’m looking forward to being back and trying to help this club do what we want to do, and that’s get to the postseason,” Pettitte said. “There was obviously a lot of talk, and they were concerned that they were rushing me, but I feel healthy and I just want to get back in the mix. You don’t ever know what’s going to happen in the heat of the game, but my leg feels 100 percent.”

Pettitte, who ended a one-year retirement and returned to the Yankees in March, was 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA in nine starts prior to going on the disabled list. As he was on the 60-day DL, the Yankees will need to make a 40-man roster move to accommodate his return, but that move will likely not be determined until at least Monday.

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