Andy Pettitte will return to the Yankee Stadium mound on Sunday. To pitch. Well, kind of.
According to beat writer Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, the 39-year-old left-hander will toss the ceremonial first pitch before the Yankees’ Game 2 matchup against the Tigers.
Pettitte, who hasn’t officially retired but sat out all of this season, has not made a public appearance at the Stadium since 2010. He’s dropped by the home clubhouse, but only for brief visits with old friends.
Pettitte reiterated to reporters in a short chat Saturday that he has no desire to return to professional baseball, and that he’s enjoying his retirement. But he also offered the old “never say never” cliche.
“There is no doubt, I’m standing right here, you miss it,” said Pettitte, talking in the Yankees’ dugout Saturday, a few hours before the resumption of Game 1. “You would love to be out there, whenever you get here and get around the environment. [But] the desire is not there. The same desire that made me go home is the same desire to play. Again, like I’ve said, unless God works a miracle and gives me that desire to do that, I don’t see any chance.”
Pettitte registered a 3.88 career ERA over 16 MLB seasons. He had a 3.83 career ERA in the playoffs.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.