Nova, Pettitte in rotation during coming homestand

The Yankees’ rotation is slowly headed back to full strength. Ivan Nova, who has been out since Aug. 23 with right rotator cuff inflammation, will start Saturday at Yankee Stadium against the Rays. Andy Pettitte will follow suit by making his first start since June 27 Tuesday night against the Blue Jays.

The return of Nova and Pettitte during the homestand that begins Friday night against the Rays with CC Sabathia opposing David Price moves Freddy Garcia and David Phelps to the bullpen, which further strengthens the staff.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s announcement Thursday night at Boston about Pettitte came as something of a surprise. The lefthander, who has been disabled for 10 weeks while recovering from a fractured left fibula, pitched a simulated game before Wednesday night’s game and was expected to toss another such game over the coming weekend. Pettitte argued that if was going to throw another 75 pitches he might as well do it in competition.

Considering the tightness of the American League East, the Yankees can use all the help they can get. When Pettitte went on the DL, the Yankees had a five-game lead that would double by July 18, but entering play Thursday night they were a half-game behind the Orioles. Following a meeting among Girardi, Pettitte, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and trainer Steve Donohue, the Yankees made the decision on Pettitte, which will allow him to make four starts over the final three weeks of the regular season.

“Whether it’s later in the week or whatever, it’s a rush job anyway,” Pettitte told reporters. “I feel 100 percent and I’m being honest with them. I need to get out there and get in a big league game. I just want to go to battle with these guys.”

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