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Andy Pettitte close to returning to Yankees' rotation

Yankees starting pitcher Andy Pettitte throws in the

Yankees starting pitcher Andy Pettitte throws in the second inning. (May 29, 2012) Credit: AP

BOSTON — Andy Pettitte looks to be a doctor’s clearance away from being reinserted into the Yankees’ rotation. 

Joe Girardi indicated as much Wednesday after watching Pettitte throw a 55-pitch simulated game. 

If Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad, who will evaluate Pettitte Friday, gives the go-ahead, the lefthander could start next week, likely on Tuesday against Toronto in place of David Phelps. 

“I’m ready,” said the 40-year-old Pettitte, on the DL since June 28 with a fractured left ankle. 

With Girardi and most of his coaching staff watching, Pettitte simulated a four-inning game, pitching to righty Melky Mesa and lefty Chris Dickerson. Francisco Cervelli did the catching. 

Girardi’s concern isn’t with the pitcher’s arm strength; it’s how Pettitte’s lower half will respond to the quick movements — on bunts, grounders, covering first, etc. — he has to make off the mound, which are difficult to simulate. 

“It’s controlled,” Girardi said of those situations during Wednesday’s simulated game. “They rolled a bunt out and he knew it was coming. It wasn’t something that he had to react quickly to.”

From Pettitte’s perspective, the only way to truly test it is in a real game.

“Can I give you 100 pitches? No,” he said, adding later he figured he could go around 70. “But I feel like my stuff has been crisp and if they want me to do this, then I want to get back in there and I’m comfortable doing that. I feel like my body’s been bouncing back so I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be good the next time I went out and threw.”

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