From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Andy Pettitte will be back on the mound in the Bronx on Sunday, and the New York Yankees are hoping he can again be a reliable presence in their rotation.Pettitte is set to start against the Seattle Mariners in his first major league outing since retiring after the 2010 postseason."I think it will be a great day at the Stadium," manager Joe Girardi said.The lefty, who turns 40 next month, returned to the team in spring training and has made four minor league starts. Even though Pettitte was shaky over five innings in a Triple-A start Sunday, general manager Brian Cashman says the time is right."I think everybody's in agreement that he's not going to really benefit from any more time down there," Cashman said.One thing the Yankees management does agree on is the rotation needs help. Expected to be a strong part of the team after the addition of Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda in the offseason, the Yankees' rotation has struggled this to a 5.54 ERA and a .292 opponents' batting average -- only Minnesota and Colorado have worse averages against.Pineda is out for season following shoulder surgery and Freddy Garcia was demoted to the bullpen. Rookie David Phelps is scheduled to make his second start against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, then is a likely candidate to return to the bullpen. But Girardi would not say whose spot Pettitte will take.Pettitte is 240-138 in 13 years with the Yankees and three with Houston. He was a steady force in the Yankees' rotation for five World Series championships and is a fan favorite as one of the Core Four with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.Cashman, though, is trying to be realistic in his expectations for Pettitte, who will be making his first big league start in 573 days, since Game 3 of the AL championship series against Texas on Oct. 18, 2010."There's still the unknown," Cashman said. "There's a gap between what the old Andy Pettitte is and what we're going to get? I just don't know yet. But we're looking forward to adding another healthy arm to the mix here because depth has been challenged and some of our healthy starters inconsistent. It would be nice to obviously start pulling together a string of consistently strong starts by all of our starters one through five and, hopefully, that could include Andy."Pettitte already has completed his testimony at Roger Clemens' trial in Washington, D.C. so that shouldn't weigh in his mind. He will be facing one of only two AL teams he doesn't have a winning record against: He's 11-11 against Seattle and 8-8 versus Cleveland.His locker -- the same one he occupied in his last season with the Yankees -- is filling with gear that includes 10 pairs of footwear and a full mail basket. Pettitte will be working out in Westchester, where he has a New York home, until he is added to the big league roster Sunday.Tampa Bay rays manager Joe Maddon thinks Pettitte will have an immediate positive influence on the team regardless of his performance in his first few starts."You can't underestimate what he's going to do for the clubhouse being minus the other guy," Maddon said, referring to closer Mariano Rivera, who is likely out for the season with a torn knee ligament.Cashman said there had been a complication with Rivera's medical exams Monday in New York but wouldn't say what it was. Rivera saw team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad at New York Presbyterian Hospital and by Dr. Russell Warren, a knee specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery.Rivera's agent, Fernando Cuza, said Dr. David Altchek, who performed surgery on the pitcher's shoulder following the 2008 season, also looked at him."It's something I think Mo will talk to you guys about," Cashman said. "It doesn't affect anything for next year."He did say that the injury sustained while shagging fly balls last week in Kanasas City is fixable."It's all about next year," Cashman said.NOTES:RHP Jose Campos, obtained from Seattle along with Pineda, went on the disabled list of Charleston, S.C., with elbow inflammation. Pineda is sidelined for the season following shoulder surgery. The Yankees sent C Jesus Montero and RHP Hector Noesi to the Mariners in the trade. ... Brett Gardner played in left field for Triple-A Scranton-WilkesBarre in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday night as part of his rehabilitation for a strained right elbow. He singled twice in three at-bats.
Here are some of Monday's top stories in Chicago sports:
“That’s what we’re supposed to look like,” Joe Maddon said Monday night after a 6-4 loss where the San Francisco Giants scored the first six runs and Wrigley Field got loudest for the David Ross “Dancing with the Stars” look-in on the big video board, at least until a late flurry from the Cubs.
But for a manager always looking for the silver linings, Maddon could replay Addison Russell’s diving stop to his right and strong throw from deep in the hole at shortstop to take a hit away from Christian Arroyo. Or Albert Almora’s spectacular flying catch near the warning track in center field. Or Anthony Rizzo stealing another hit from Brandon Belt with a diving backhanded play near the first-base line.
The highlight reel became a reminder of how the Cubs won 103 games and the World Series last year – and made you wonder why the 2017 team hasn’t played the same consistently excellent defense with largely the same group of personnel.
“Concentration?” Jason Heyward said, quickly dismissing the theory a defensive decline could boil down to focus or effort. “No shot. No shot. It is what it is when it comes to people asking questions about last year having effects, this and that. But this is a new season.
“The standard is still high. What’s our excuse? We played later than anybody? That may buy you some time, but then what?
“The goals stay the same. We just got to find new ways to do it when you have a different team.”
FiveThirtyEight.com, Nate Silver’s statistical website, framed the question this way after the Cubs allowed the lowest batting average on balls in play ever last season, an analysis that goes all the way back to 1871: “Have the Cubs Forgotten How to Field?”
Even if the Cubs don’t set records and make history, they should still be better than 23rd in the majors in defensive efficiency, with 37 errors through 43 games. The Cubs have already allowed 28 unearned runs after giving up 45 all last season.
“We just got to stay on it and keep focusing and not let the miscues go to our head,” Ben Zobrist said. “We just have to keep working hard and staying focused in the field. A lot of that’s the rhythm of the game. I blame a lot of that on the early parts of the season and the weather and a lot of difficult things that we’ve been going through.
“If we’re not hitting the ball well, too, we’re a young team still, and you can carry that into the field. You don’t want to let that happen, but it’s part of the game. You got to learn to move beyond miscues and just focus on the next play.”
Heyward, a four-time Gold Glove winner, missed two weeks with a sprained right finger and has already started nine times in center field (after doing that 21 times all last season). Zobrist has morphed back into a super-utility guy, starting 16 games at second base and 15 in two different outfield spots.
Maddon has tried to drill the idea of making the routine play into Javier Baez’s head, so that the uber-talented second baseman can allow his natural athleticism and instincts to take over during those dazzling moments.
The Cubs are basically hoping Kyle Schwarber keeps the ball in front of him in left and setting the bar at: Don’t crash into your center fielder. Like Schwarber and Almora, catcher Willson Contreras hasn’t played a full season in The Show yet, and the Cubs are now hoping Ian Happ can become a Zobrist-type defender all over the field.
“I’m seeing our guys playing in a lot of different places,” Heyward said. “It’s not just been penciling in every day who’s going to center field or right field or left field. We did shake things up some last year, but we did it kind of later in the season. We had guys settle in, playing every day. This year, I feel like we’re having guys in different spots.
“It’s May whatever, (but) it seems like we haven’t really had a chance to settle in yet. Not that we’re procrastinating by any means, but it’s just been a lot of moving pieces.”
The Giants won World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014 with a formula that incorporated lights-out pitching, airtight defense and just enough clutch pitching. The Cubs are now a 22-21 team trying to figure it out again.
“Defense comes and goes, just like pitching,” said Kris Bryant, the reigning National League MVP, in part, because of his defensive versatility. “I feel like if you look at last year, it’s kind of hard to compare, just because it was so good. We spoiled everybody last year. Now we’re a complete letdown this year.”
Bryant paused and said: “Just kidding. Different years, things regress, things progress, and that’s just how it goes sometimes.”