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HESTER, N.Y. -- Andy Pettitte admitted that he didn't pitch as well as he would have liked in his Sunday start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but the 39-year-old still believes he's ready for a callup.
The only question now is whether Yankees general manager Brian Cashman agrees.
Cashman wasn't in attendance at Sunday's game, but he's expected to call Yankees pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras to get the full report on Pettitte's performance. As for what Contreras will tell Cashman when the phone rings?
"I will let Mr. Cashman know what I saw and then it'll be up to Mr. Cashman," a reserved Contreras said.
Pressed further about a possible promotion coming sooner rather than later, Contreras simply agreed, "Yes, I'm sure sooner rather than later."
In his fourth official Minor League start since deciding to come out of retirement, Pettitte allowed five runs (three earned) on eight hits over five innings and took the loss against Pawtucket. Pettitte also notched five strikeouts and issued a pair of walks while tossing 92 pitches -- 52 of which came in the first two innings.
"Yeah, I do," Pettitte said when asked if he felt he was ready. "I'll let [Yankees management] know what we've got going on. I feel like I'm ready. I feel like I'm ready to go up, and I think they're ready for me to come up. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see."
Pettitte got off to a rocky start, allowing four straight hits to start the game before finally striking out Mauro Gomez on his 24th pitch for the first out. He struck out the next batter, as well, and picked off a runner at first to finally get out of the inning, already in a 2-0 hole.
The second inning wasn't much better for Pettitte, starting with a hard-hit grounder that snuck past third baseman Brandon Laird for an error. Pettitte then notched the third of his five strikeouts, but struggled with his command to the next few hitters.
The southpaw issued a one-out walk and conceded a single to load the bases before walking shortstop Jose Iglesias on four pitches to force in another run. Prior to his two walks Sunday, Pettitte had handed out just one free pass over 22 2/3 innings in his six total appearances, including two extended spring outings.
"It's good just to get out there, it's good to get into trouble and have to work my way out of trouble," Pettitte said. "Just going through what you've got to go through to get game ready. I feel good. I felt like I was ready to go after my last start."
It may have been good to get some adversity under his belt, but the 52 pitches it took him to get through the opening two frames wasn't encouraging, especially considering he was on a 95-100 pitch limit. He was able to settle in and get through five innings, though, retiring each of the last six batters he faced.
"We try to pull positives out of it. It was good for me that I really had to work hard that inning," Pettitte said. "In the back of my mind, I'm like, 'I'm throwing a lot of pitches here,' and I come in the dugout and the guys are like, 'Hey, you threw a lot of pitches that inning, let us know if you feel gassed or whatever over the next couple.'
"But I felt good. I felt as strong in the last inning as I did in the first inning."
Though Pettitte acknowledged the numbers weren't where he'd like them to be, he pointed out that pitching in the Minor Leagues brings with it an entirely different atmosphere than a big league outing. Sunday was no different, as late last week the game was moved from its scheduled location at a much smaller field in Batavia, N.Y., to Triple-A Rochester's Frontier Field to accommodate the expected large crowd.
As it turns out, Pettitte pitched in front of a Frontier Field regular-season record crowd of 13,584. After exiting the game to a standing ovation and making a curtain call, Pettitte met with some of those fans during an impromptu 40-minute autograph session on the stadium's concourse during the later innings of the 7-5 loss.
"It's inevitable, I believe, to get me up there and get in the mix. You try to get locked in -- I'm trying as hard as I can to get focused -- but it's difficult," Pettitte said. "You're out there signing baseballs ... it's exciting for everybody. You're a competitor, and I wish I would have hit with some of my pitches a little bit more today, but all in all, I feel good about it."
Despite the lack of a definitive answer as to whether or not Pettitte's next start will come in a Yankees uniform, the consensus seemed to be that, if he's not ready, he's certainly on the verge. Catcher Francisco Cervelli, who was behind the plate Sunday, said he thinks that Pettitte is "really close," but added that only Pettitte knows if he's completely ready.
The numbers may not have showed it Sunday, but the five-time World Series champion believes he's once again ready to contribute to the Yankees' rotation.