Once Andy Pettitte scooped up a baseball this month, the same feelings that he had after the season ended were still there. It didn’t take Pettitte many pitches or many minutes to realize that he wanted to return to the Yankees for the 2013 season.
“It was pretty easy,” said Pettitte, in describing a decision that allowed the Yankees to exhale.
Now that Pettitte has agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract, the Yankees will slot him behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda in the rotation.
While Pettitte will turn 41 years old in June, he made a bold prediction in saying that he hopes to make 34 starts. To accomplish that goal, he would need to be injury-free for the entire season.
“I think I can do that,” said Pettitte. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t try to do it again.”
Before Pettitte fractured his left fibula when he was hit by a line drive last June, he was pitching extremely well. Pettitte explained how he had excellent command of all four pitches and how his return following a one-year retirement didn’t hamper him. He likened it to riding a bike. Pettitte went 5-4 with a 2.87 earned run average in 75 1/3 innings. He had a 3.29 ERA in two post-season starts.
But, in order for Pettitte to have a successful season, he needs to pitch a lot more than 75 1/3 innings. Although Pettitte hasn’t pitched more than 129 innings since 2009, he said that his left arm has felt fresher because of the three months that he missed last season. Pettitte said he has a “great desire” to compete and help the Yankees win another title.
As excited as Pettitte is to return and as excited as the Yankees are to have him back, the focus of their relationship isn’t about this being a feel-good story. The focus is about production. The Yankees need Pettitte to stay healthy, to give them innings and to put them in position to win most of his starts. It was easy for Pettitte to decide to return. Now he needs to make efficient pitching look easy again, too.
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