Saturday, January 22, 2011

Midseason Pettitte return works for Yankees

A midseason return for Andy Pettitte would work for both the veteran lefty and the New York Yankees.

Joe Girardi indicated this week that Pettitte is throwing to keep himself in shape for a possible return, one that increasingly looks less likely to happen in spring training. But returning to the team sometime in mid-June solves a lot of problems for both sides.

It gets Pettitte back to the Yankees when they will still be in competition for an American League East division title, barring some epic early-season collapse. I think that’s unlikely, even if the Yankees must go with Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre in the starting rotation for a few months, because I think the Yankees have a strong enough lineup and a sterling bullpen to win some of their games, including the ones that turn into slugfests.

For Pettitte, it gives him more time with his kids before he has to show up for work in the Bronx and less of a separation as his family could conceivably join him in the summer months up north. Of course, this assumes that Pettitte's heart is still in it and this reluctance to return doesn't signal a deeper longing to move on from the baseball chapter of his life. Maybe he’ll just wait to see how his teammates do early in the season and make his return once he realizes that they still need him.

It's not like there isn't precedence for this. Remember, the crude Roger Clemens announcement that he was coming back, made from George Steinbrenner's box at the old Yankee Stadium during a 2007 game. I'm sure a Pettitte return would be handled with more class and greeted even more warmly.

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