Andy Pettitte: What His Return Means for the Yankees Rotation

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2012

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18:  Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout at the end of the top of the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 18, 2010 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

For those hoping to see Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos pitch with the Yankees in 2012, I've got some bad news for you—the prodigal son has returned, and neither one of the "Killer B's" will be in the Bronx in 2012.

Andy Pettitte, who retired following the 2010 season, has come out of retirement and signed a one-year, $2.5 million minor league deal with the New York Yankees.

He obviously will not be ready by opening day and will likely need at least a month of work in extended spring training and the minor leagues before he is ready to take the mound again at Yankee Stadium.

While there is no guarantee that Pettitte is going to be able to pull this comeback off, understand this—Andy Pettitte is not doing this to see if he can pitch out of the bullpen.

He is here to take somebody's job.

Neither CC Sabathia or Hiroki Kuroda need to be worried. Both of them are assured of keeping their place in the rotation through the season.

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Freddy Garcia was likely headed to the bullpen before he injured his hand, and therefore he is largely irrelevant to this discussion.

However, if I were Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, I would realize that I have now been put on notice.

The trio has minor league options remaining, and if any of them falter as the season makes its way towards Memorial Day, any of them—or possibly more than one of them—could find themselves comprising one of the most talented Triple-A pitching staffs around, accompanied by the aforementioned Betances and Banuelos.

Should more than one of the trio be demoted to make room for Pettitte, I would expect Adam Warren or David Phelps to be the first pitchers given a shot as replacements in the rotation.

Again, we are getting ahead of ourselves. There is no guarantee that Andy Pettitte can still pitch.

But let us assume that Andy still has it, that regardless of the fact that he turns 40 in June, the 2012 version of Andy Pettitte is just as effective as the 2010 model was.

His return only increases the scrutiny under which the Yankees young pitchers will find themselves, as if the spotlight in New York did not already shine bright enough.

It will be fascinating to see who can withstand the heat and who melts under the pressure.