BALTIMORE -- Last season, the Yankees invited Andy Pettitte to throw a ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the American League Division Series against Detroit. This year, they'll be asking a lot more out of his left arm.
Pettitte will start Game 2 of the ALDS against the Orioles on Monday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced on Saturday, slotting the 40-year-old veteran into a role he has filled many times in his pinstriped career.
"I just told them, whenever they want me to pitch, I'll pitch," Pettitte said. "It really doesn't matter. I'm just excited to get back out there, you know? It's a long year and it was a hard-fought year to get here. These [Orioles] obviously pushed us hard in September, so it should be a good series and I'm just looking forward to getting after it."
Pettitte, who finished the regular season 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts, threw a bullpen session during Friday's workout at Yankee Stadium.
He would have been in line to pitch had the Yankees and Orioles needed to play a one-game playoff on Thursday in Baltimore to decide the AL East. Though Pettitte has said his legs have felt tired toward the tail end of his recent starts, he never had any doubt that he'd be back from his left ankle fracture in time for the playoffs.
"I always felt like I was going to get back, but I just knew it was going to be a rush job which obviously isn't a great feeling when you know the responsibility that you have," Pettitte said. "That was the only thing I knew. I knew I was going to get back because of how careful I was being. I was going to make sure I didn't have another setback. I was also trying to rush to get back because you wanted to have time to get prepared for this."
Game 2 has historically been Pettitte's territory; this will be the 16th Game 2 start in 17 seasons for the game's all-time winningest postseason pitcher. He won his last Game 2 start, in the 2010 AL Division Series against the Twins at Target Field.
Girardi said that the Yankees are setting their rotation to have right-hander Hiroki Kuroda pitch Game 3 at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Phil Hughes would pitch Game 4, if necessary, and Game 1 starter CC Sabathia would be available for a potential Game 5.
"We just felt that the extra rest would probably help [Kuroda]," Girardi said. "He would have been on his normal turn. We thought the extra rest would help him."
Kuroda was 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in 33 starts this year for New York, but showed some signs of fatigue down the stretch as he completed a team-leading 219 2/3 innings -- his heaviest workload since coming to the Major Leagues.
"I'm really thankful and grateful for [Girardi's] consideration and I hope I can meet his expectations," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "I'm just hoping to be in the best mental and physical condition as possible for that game."