Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pettitte return may be uncomfortable for Yankees

In my euphoria over Andy Pettitte’s unexpected un-retirement, I did not even consider that his return could create so much controversy and possibly ill feelings. Putting Bobby Valentine’s digs aside, it seems that the New York Yankees may have set themselves up for quite a bit of dissension in the clubhouse.

Of course, his old Core Four teammates Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera could not be more thrilled by Pettitte’s return, not only because he is a friend, but because they know he completely buys into their team-first mantra. They will never have to worry about Pettitte being more concerned about his borderline Hall of Fame candidacy than about winning ballgames.

But Freddy Garcia signed a contract with the Yankees on the understanding that he would be a member of their starting rotation. And although nothing with the Yankees is guaranteed, it probably was a fair assumption on his part. But now, Garcia not only has to deal with the indignity of competing with the 25-year-old Phil Hughes for a job despite putting up solid numbers with the Yankees last year, Garcia will likely find himself pushed aside for a guy coming out of retirement. Garcia seems like a really good guy so the fact that he is even hinting at a little frustration is something that should worry the Yankees.

Hughes is also being as diplomatic as possible, but he cannot be happy about the fact that he could still get pushed to the bullpen despite rising up the Yankees challenge about getting himself into tip-top shape and pitching well in spring training. Early reports indicate that Hughes more closely resembles the 2010 All-Star pitcher rather than the guy who struggled with injuries and a disappearing fastball last year. But he is going to have to remind the Yankees of a young Andy Pettitte if he wants to secure a spot in the starting rotation.

I agree with the mantra that you can never have too much pitching, but the Yankees relentless quest for pitching may become a problem. That being said, I think there is absolutely no doubt the Yankees made the right call to hire Pettitte out of retirement. His experience, knowledge and work ethic are unmatched and something, perhaps, the younger Yankees can learn from. But with only five starting jobs available, Joe Girardi is going to have to do an amazing job keeping everyone happy or, more importantly, in line.

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