MLB

Andy Pettitte eager to return after simulated game

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BOSTON (AP)

Andy Pettitte thinks he's ready to help the struggling New York Yankees right now.

Sidelined since his left ankle was broken by a line drive June 27 against Cleveland, the 40-year-old left-hander threw another simulated game Wednesday at Fenway Park and said he can rejoin the rotation immediately.

Pettitte said he felt great and could give the team ''60, 65 pitches.''

Yankees teammate Ivan Nova is all set to return. Nova, out since Aug. 21 with inflammation in his right rotator cuff, will start Saturday at home against Tampa Bay, bumping Freddy Garcia to the bullpen.

Standing in the middle of the Yankees' clubhouse Wednesday about three hours before their game against Boston, Pettitte voiced his desire to start as New York fights for a playoff spot in the tight AL East race.

''I did everything I needed to do. I felt good. It's another step,'' he said. ''They felt like my stuff was great. I just don't know what the next step is - hopefully I'll get back in the rotation. That's what I want to do.''

Pettitte said he'll state his case in the next few days.

''It's just a matter of what they're comfortable with, with this team, knowing I can't give you 100 pitches,'' he said. ''There's a lot of different factors. I'm sure we'll talk about it and hopefully I can convince them. I feel great. My leg's feeling great. Hopefully it'll be the stamina - that's the only thing.''

While he's been sidelined, Pettitte has watched his team's 10-game lead in the division vanish. New York entered Wednesday tied with Baltimore for first place.

''You know we had a big lead and the lead's gone,'' he said. ''You want to embrace it. You don't want to be scared of the situation. It's exciting. Do you want to fail? No. But you can't be scared of failure, that's for sure.''

Manager Joe Girardi said it would be a group decision between general manager Brian Cashman and the medical staff, but knows Pettitte's experience will play a part in the next move. Girardi also said the only way Pettitte would be back with the team would be as a starter, knocking down any thought of him making relief appearances.

''He means a lot to this club. We've seen that. We saw that a lot the first time,'' Girardi said. ''We went on quite a roll. If they deem he's ready to move around like he has to, he'll be out there.''

Pettitte had a setback in July during his rehabilitation.

After ending a one-year retirement in March, he is 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA in nine starts this season. The three-time All-Star is baseball's career leader in postseason wins (19) and starts (42).

Tagged: Yankees, Andy Pettitte

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