The Yankees’ starting rotation has undergone a sea change since last spring, when the only news centered on the competition between Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain for the fifth spot. CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez comprised what appeared to be a solid starting staff.
Hughes easily bested Chamberlain for the fifth spot and essentially wound up the No. 2 starter as Burnett and Vazquez tanked and Pettitte was sidelined for most of the second half. Chamberlain was anointed the eight-inning set-up to closer Mariano Rivera in April, only to lose that job through ineffectiveness by July.
With pitchers and catchers little more than a month away, the Yankees have Sabathia and Hughes as reliable returnees. Burnett and his big salary are back with plenty to prove. Pettitte, 38, has not made a decision on returning and the Yankees apparently have done little to persuade him. Reports suggest he would be offered a one-year contract of $12 to $13 million, a modest raise over the $11.75 million he earned in 2010.
Pettitte was interviewed Thursday in Texas and only added to the general indecision surrounding his situation. ``I'm just chilling out, hanging,'' he told the New York Post. ``I'm relaxing. If I had something, y'all would know. If I knew exactly what I was doing, y'all would know. I don't want to be a story. I really don't want [the Yankees] to worry about me. I just want them to go, just go on."
Pettitte appears to be leaving the door slightly ajar, but until he commits, the Yankees have rotation problems. Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre are the candidates to fill the starting slots. General manager Brian Cashman said Chamberlain, a big factor last spring, will not be given another shot as a starter.
And, with talk of adding Rafael Soriano as the set up to Rivera, Chamberlain apparently is not considered a candidate to again audition for that vital role. The arbitration-eligible righthander likely will be used in the sixth or seventh inning.