"I kind of expect him to be what he was in 2010," Girardi said before Saturday's game. "I don't know if that is quite fair after taking a year and a half. That's what I know. That's what I'm using to seeing -- him really grinding out starts, him getting double-play balls. Doing little things to help himself get out of innings."
Pettitte sat out 2011 after posting a 3.28 ERA in 21 starts in 2010. He also made two starts in the postseason, including his last appearance, an Oct. 18 loss to the Rangers in the American League Championship Series. A groin injury limited him to 129 innings in the regular season. Girardi will keep that and Pettitte's age (39 until June 15) in mind.
"I think you have to understand that he's going to want to go out there no matter what, that's his personality," Girardi said. "I think I have to use good judgment. If I think he needs an extra day, I give him an extra day."
Girardi said he expected Pettitte to be able to throw about 100 pitches after making four starts in the Minor Leagues.
"I worry a little about the emotions that could play into tomorrow," Girardi said. "Obviously there's going to be a huge buzz here. When you sit out for a year and a half, you truly realize how much you miss the game."
Pettitte has thrown bullpen sessions at Yankee Stadium, but Girardi has not seen him pitch in person since Spring Training. Catchers Russell Martin and Chris Stewart have not worked with the lefty in a regular-season game.
"It's a different animal when it's the real season and the emotions that go into it," Girardi said. "There will be some challenges, but they'll figure it out. We have experienced catchers and we have an experienced pitcher."