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Yankees pregame notes: Pettitte on the mound for rubber match with A's

05/05/2013 12:55 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Andy Pettitte faces the Oakland A's looking for his 249th career win.( AP)
The Yankees host the Oakland Athletics in the rubber match of their three-game set at the Stadium today, looking to finish off the homestand at 8-2 and looking to win their seventh series out of their last eight.

Lefty Andy Pettitte is on the mound today, making his first start against the A’s since 2009. The southpaw is coming off a performance that manager Joe Girardi called “a clunker” against Houston on Monday, but the skipper is confident that Pettitte will be able to do what he’s done all season.

“I think the distance that he’s been able to give us has been extremely important, and the only way you get distance is making quality pitches,” Girardi said. “I know he had a little clunker this last start, but I expect him to get back right to where he was.”

In that last start, Pettitte didn’t have very good command of multiple pitches, most notably his cutter, but Girardi was confident, even jocular, in saying he doesn’t see that as a multi-start issue.

“I would be completely shocked if (the cutter) is not there today; I think at some point during this week he found it…I’m not sure where he left it the other day,” Girardi joked.

The lineup today features the “regular” nine, and in his pregame press conference, Girardi was especially praiseful of catcher Chris Stewart, who has stepped into the shoes Francisco Cervelli left both offensively and defensively.

“He does a very good job back there handling our pitching staff, being prepared and knowing how to get hitters out and reading what a pitcher has that day…he knows how to catch, bottom line,” Girardi said. “He throws really well, and that controls the running game as well.”

That said, Girardi also praised the development of Austin Romine, intimating that he will remain the nominal backup for now but also commenting on how far he has come since his last Major League stint. Romine was working on his throwing to second base with Tony Pena pregame, and Girardi specifically noted how the rookie did a “great job” with the not-so-easy task of coming in off the bench to catch on Friday.

“I think it’s hard to tell (how much he’s adjusted) without putting him in a lot of games, but one thing I do notice is that I don’t see ‘deer in headlights’ every day,” Girardi said. “We put him in there the other day, and he did a nice job coming in in relief; for a catcher, that’s not as easy as people think it is, because as much as you pay attention to a game, it’s a different feeling being behind the plate and in the flow of the game.”

Other news and notes from around the Yankees clubhouse on a bright Sunday morning:

-Girardi said that he’s not sure exactly which players will be headed to Tampa to begin or continue rehab once the homestand is over – saying “all I know is we have a chartered flight headed there” – but admitted that he monitors the progresses of those working their way back, he tries not to put too much stock or effort in that process unless something out of the ordinary happens.

“I get a little update, but the update I don’t want to hear is that we had a setback,” Girardi said. “If we don’t have a setback, I don’t get too worried about it, as long as they’re going in the right direction. For me, I know there’s a lot of big people (in Tampa), but that’s not going to be the focus of my days.”

-Of those already in Tampa, Curtis Granderson continues to work his way back in Extended Spring Training games. Granderson was hit in the triceps by a pitch during Saturday’s game, but remained in and ended up going 2-for-4 plus that hit by pitch.

According to Girardi, Granderson is “going in the right direction” and has been getting reps at all three outfield positions, so it’s not entirely set in stone that he will be the center fielder when he returns.

“We’ll decide that as time goes on; when we talk about Grandy, we just want to get him healthy,” Girardi said. “People ask me a lot about what I’m going to do with my outfield, well Grandy’s going to play but as you’ve seen around here, a lot can happen in a couple weeks. … We might toy around with some other things, and my concern is how he reacts to all the different spots.”

-Of those still here, Mark Teixeira took ground balls at first base this morning, and was scheduled to do some hitting in the cage. Also, David Robertson, who is battling a sore hamstring, will likely not do anything today as the Yankees prepare for their trip to Colorado.

“I don’t think we have him throwing today, I’ll see what (pitching coach) Larry (Rothschild) wants to do,” Girardi said. “I know he’s feeling better, and he played catch yesterday.”

-As far as other events at the Stadium, today’s giveaway is a replica 1998 World Series fan ring, which bears a “125-50” number on the side in a nod to the final record of that year’s squad; also, the Yankees will have a trio of ceremonies on the field to recognize sponsors and present a check to the Wounded Warrior Foundation, and actor Gabriel Macht from the USA Network series “Suits” will be joining the Bleacher Creatures for Roll Call.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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