Pettitte eager to rejoin Yankees’ rotation

NEW YORK (AP) — Andy Pettitte is all set — to spend time with the Yankees in the clubhouse, to sit on the bench with his teammates, to warm up in the bullpen.

Pronouncing himself physically and mentally ready to rejoin New York’s rotation, the soon-to-be 40-year-old lefty said his only anxiety came from what any starting pitcher feels.

No matter whether it’s a regular-season game or the World Series, he said, “You want to get that first out behind you.”

Pettitte will have that chance Sunday when he starts against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s time now,” he said Thursday on a conference call. “It’s time to get up here and get going.”

Pettitte retired after 2010, sat out last year and then decided to make a comeback this season. He made four starts in the minors and had a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings, and said his body is ready to go.

“There’s nothing I’m worried about,” he said. “I have not had any problems.”

Pettitte is 240-138 in 13 years with New York and three with Houston. He was a constant presence for five Yankees championship teams and always a fan favorite.

The Bronx ballpark figures to be cheering loudly when Pettitte takes the mound this weekend. His parents and in-laws are already heading up to New York for the game, though his oldest son will stay in Texas to take part in the high school baseball playoffs.

Pettitte said he’s thrown a couple of bullpen sessions at Yankee Stadium and has been working with pitching coach Larry Rothschild. He also praised the team’s training staff, including the chiropractors who’ve helped keep him in good shape.

When Pettitte rejoined the Yankees in spring training, it seemed as if the team had a surplus of pitching. That’s changed since then — All-Star newcomer Michael Pineda is out for the season with shoulder trouble, Freddy Garcia got demoted to the bullpen and Phil Hughes has struggled at times.

Plus, closer Mariano Rivera is gone. The career saves leader wrecked his right knee last week while shagging fly balls during batting practice.

“That’s terrible,” Pettitte said. “Mo was pushing really hard for me to come back.”

Pettitte said he’s been closely following the Yankees’ situation all season, and even rigged up a way to get the team’s television network at his room in Tampa, Fla., while working out.

“I feel like I’m at a place where I can help us,” he said. “I know what they expect from me.”

Providing veteran counsel to the Yankees’ pitchers is part of the package, helping “take some of the stress off them,” he said.

NOTES: Yankees OF Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) had a setback in his rehab, manager Joe Girardi said. Gardner had swelling after playing in a Triple-A game Wednesday night and will undergo more tests. The Yankees had originally planned to have him back with the team Thursday. Now, “I don’t know when we’re going to get him back,” Girardi said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.