Andy Pettitte came to spring training in late February for the first time, serving as a guest instructor at Yankees camp in Tampa. That role apparently wasn’t enough for him.
The 39-year-old lefthander signed a minor-league contract on March 16 to put an end to his 14-month retirement, adding a veteran arm to the Yankees’ rotation for 2012.
“During my work right now, my bullpen work, I can feel it all coming back, as far as the mental side of it,” Pettitte said. “I’m just hoping and praying that physically, I hold together, which I think I will. You never know.”
Pettitte began working out in late-December as he contemplated a comeback, but he didn’t know he wanted to return for certain until he came to Tampa and was back on the field with his old team.
Pettitte will need a six-week, spring training-like program to get ready for the season, meaning he probably won’t be ready to join the Yankees’ rotation until May.
With Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Freddy Garcia battling this spring for three spots in the rotation, the winners will have to get off to a good start during the first month in order to hold their jobs when Pettitte is ready to go.
“It’s going to be talked about what some of the possibilities are with seven starters and five spots, but I think what they have to do — and I’ll reinforce it to them — is just go out and do the best you can and let us make the decisions,” Joe Girardi said. “The only thing you can control is how well you do.”