Pettitte will likely be an All-Star sub

Updated: July 5, 2010, 12:54 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Six Yankees were named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday, including three pitchers.

But not the one starting pitcher who is not only enjoying the best start of his 16-year career, but also the best start of any pitcher on the Yankees' staff.

[+] EnlargeAndy Pettitte
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IITAndy Pettitte has better numbers than both CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes this season.

Yet Andy Pettitte, who has not been selected to an All-Star team in nine years and who has pitched only one inning in All-Star play, said he is not disappointed.

That is because manager Joe Girardi, who chose CC Sabathia over Pettitte to fill one of the five slots available to him on the pitching staff, has a grand plan.

Call it the Pettitte backdoor play.

Under baseball's rules, no pitcher who starts on Sunday, July 11 -- the last day of play before the All-Star break -- is allowed to pitch in the All-Star Game on July 13. Girardi's plan is to substitute Pettitte for Sabathia on the All-Star roster.

"That's pretty much right on,'' Girardi said. "I thought CC was well-deserving and Andy is well-deserving. And I hate the fact that one guy wouldn't make it. So in this case, we could have two left-handers in Anaheim.''

Pressed to admit that Pettitte was as good as a member of his All-Star squad right now, Girardi would only say, "That's a move that could possibly be made by the end of the week.''

Then he added, "As soon as one pitch is thrown on Sunday.''

In the likely event that Pettitte is added to the All-Star team, he might even get the starting assignment, since his next start is scheduled for Thursday in Seattle. After that, his next day to start would be on Tuesday, July 13 -- the day of the All-Star Game.

"Who the starter would be is something we still have to think about and discuss,'' Girardi said. "But as I said, Andy is well-deserving.''

Pettitte, along with Sabathia and Phil Hughes -- who was elected to the team by the players -- has 10 wins so far this season. But his 2.82 ERA is significantly lower than either Sabathia's (3.33) or Hughes', which climbed to 3.83 after surrendering five runs in six innings on Sunday.

Asked if he was disappointed at having to be snuck onto the All-Star squad, Pettitte said, "Not at all. The idea is to get as many of our players onto the team, and this is a way that maybe we can work it all out. Hopefully, I'll get to go.''

Joining the three starting pitchers are Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano, landslide winners in the fan voting, and Mariano Rivera, who was selected by the players. Nick Swisher still has a shot of making the team if he wins the fan election of the game's final player, a spot for which he is vying with Paul Konerko of the White Sox, Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox, Delmon Young of the Twins and Michael Young of the Rangers.

A mild surprise was Girardi's choice of Alex Rodriguez, whose numbers --.276, 12 home runs and 62 RBIs -- are below his career norms.

"I think a lot of times people look at Alex as a home run hitter, and with only 12 home runs, people think he's having a down year,'' Girardi said. "But even with only 12 home runs, he's still third in the league in RBI, and everyone that's surrounding him in the lineup is going to the All-Star Game. So I thought he was deserving.''

Said A-Rod: "I'm not surprised, but I am excited. It's very flattering to be honored by Joe. I had two vacations planned but I'd rather spend that time in Anaheim. Hopefully, I'll be able to influence the American League in winning the game.''

Wallace Matthews is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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