Pettitte rarin' to go

Andy Pettitte's line today was not particularly good -- 5 2/3 IP, 10 H, 6 R (5 ER), 8 K's -- but the comebacking left-hander declared himself ready to re-join the Yankees.

"I feel I'm strong enough and ready to make my next start with [the Yankees]," Pettitte told MLB.com after the 96-pitch outing against a team of Philadelphia Phillies minor-leaguers in Clearwater, Fla. "I feel good and it was another solid day. I felt the quality of pitches were as good as I've had in any of my starts up to now, and I was able to hold my velocity throughout [the outing]. I feel like I'm ready to help the team."

Pettitte is likely to have two more rehab starts, putting his return to the Yankees at about May 15.

Joe Girardi said he had not spoken to Pettitte nor any of the scouts who were at the game, but said his understanding was that weather conditions had contributed to some of Pettitte's difficulties, including a three-run homer that was "wind-assisted.''

"I know some balls can get through the infield really, really fast when you're down in Florida, and as we've seen there's a lot of windy days when the wind blows out,'' Girardi said. "I'll talk to Andy, I'll talk to some people who saw him, and see what their evaluation of what his command was and the crispness of his pitches.''

With Michael Pineda about to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, Freddy Garcia having been banished to the bullpen and Phil Hughes still struggling to find a groove, Pettitte's return -- formerly viewed as a luxury for the Yankees -- is now probably closer to a necessity.

Girardi said he believed Pettitte, who last pitched in a major-league game in October 2010 and will turn 40 on June 15, could return to the form he showed in his last season, when he was 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA when he went on the disabled list on July 18 with a groin pull that sidelined him for two months.

"That’s one of the reasons we signed him,'' Girardi said. "We think he can get back to what he was. There are not guarantees when a guy's 39 years old and he's taken a year-and-half off, but I do know Andy's work ethic, I do know what he's all about, and if anyone can do it, he can do it, and my thought is he's going to get back to that 2010 form. But time's gonna tell.''