Risk and reward for Andy in WBC

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The official Team USA roster will be announced tomorrow, however we already know that Andy Pettitte will be participating in this year’s World Baseball Classic, according to WFAN’s Jon Heyman.

Pettitte’s decision to pitch in the upcoming event can be viewed as having risk and reward.

First the risk. WBC or not, Pettitte’s age alone is enough to ask questions about workload and whether or not he can handle the rigors and grind of a 162 game season. Couple that with pitching “extra” innings before the season begins and that may compound the problem, especially as the “dog-days” of summer descend on the Bronx and every player begins to drag. Pettitte has had a history of elbow, groin and back problems throughout his career, and hasn’t had an injury-free season since 2009.

The Yankees success throughout the regular season and playoffs if they reach, will be heavily attributed to Pettitte’s performance. They want him as fresh as can be for as long as possible, so pitching in the WBC could take a toll on the soon-to-be 41 year old’s body.

When he returned in May, Pettitte was clearly refreshed as he pitched to an ERA of 2.87, with a k/9 innings ratio of 8.2, his highest since 2004. However, Pettitte was largely unhappy with his command and endurance throughout the season, and blamed it on the fact that he had such a long layoff from retirement and his broken leg. Admittedly, he said that his legs were not fully underneath him, an important component for any pitcher. Remember, his Spring Training was rushed last year because of his late decision to come back. This is why the WBC could be a reward.

If Pettitte truly feels his elbow is fine, which has been his major concern throughout his career, then why not pitch in the WBC? The more Pettitte gets his legs underneath him in real, stressful game situations, the better off he might be as he prepares for his first full season since 2010. In my opinion, the more work he gets in stressful innings again, the better prepared he will be, IF his workload is managed properly. The WBC will be the closest thing to the regular season, which is maybe what Pettitte wants to get a better feel of.

Each pitcher has a certain amount of bullets in his arm for his career. When Pettitte left the game after 2010, he made sure he had exhausted the desire to play. Obviously, he still had something left in the tank. Maybe playing in the WBC is a chance for Pettitte to fully leave everything out on the field since this will probably be his last year; in Pettitte’s illustrious career, he hasn’t participated in the WBC since it’s inception in 2006.

Let’s be honest, Pettitte isn’t going to be pitching 7-8 innings for Team USA every time out. The Yankees will no doubt manage and have an input on his usage, but if Pettitte is 100 percent healthy then he should be allowed to participate. If the Yankees had any real concern about his longevity this season, he would NOT be on the roster.

GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi will most likely have the final say on how and when Pettitte is used in the tournament.

Do you think Pettitte pitching in the WBC is a good idea? Comment below.

Rich Kaufman

Ever since my parents bought me a Paul O'Neill shirt at my first Yankees game back in 1994 I've been a diehard fan. I graduated from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., in 2011 with a degree in Communications/Sports Journalism, so writing about the Yankees has always been a passion of mine.

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