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03/17/12 6:20 PM ET

Teammates welcome Pettitte with open arms

TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter always maintains that nothing around the Yankees' universe surprises him, and he held firm on that stance Saturday, one day after Andy Pettitte came out of retirement to sign a Minor League contract with the club.

"You don't know anything until it happens," Jeter said. "I know he was itching, thinking about it, but a lot of people say that."

Pettitte followed through, inking a deal that could pay him $2.5 million, and Jeter is among the many Yankees who will be happy to see the left-hander back in pinstripes on Tuesday, when Pettitte is scheduled for a bullpen session at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"It's great," Jeter said. "Andy's done a lot for the organization; all the guys love him. He'll add to our team on the field and off the field."

Alex Rodriguez said that Pettitte -- whose presence restores the "Core Four" to three active members, following Jorge Posada's retirement earlier this year -- will find a very enthusiastic reception waiting for him in the clubhouse.

"The one thing about this game is that it never stops for anybody," Rodriguez said. "Whether someone retires or somebody gets hurt, this great game will continue to move on. We're the fortunate ones that he did miss it. We missed him, and we're very happy to have him back."

Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said he played golf with Pettitte about two or three weeks ago in Tampa, Fla. Pettitte didn't tell Swisher that he was thinking of coming back, but the left-hander did admit that he'd been working out, providing a puzzle piece that Swisher put together after the announcement.

"He's just an icon," Swisher said. "He's everything that you want to be in a ballplayer. Not only does he have the amazing career numbers that he's had throughout his entire career, but he's an amazing man. He's a great father. He's a great husband. All those amazing things that he has, that's somebody you want to look up to."

Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova reviewed videos of Pettitte's great playoff starts before making his postseason debut in 2011, trying to pick up tips on how to focus under pressure. Nova glowed on Saturday as he sat at his locker, mimicking Pettitte's intense glove-up, cap-down stare.

"In the postseason, I got the chance to talk to him a couple of times," Nova said. "He's a good guy. I'm happy to have him back. I got the chance to play with him one time [in 2010] and I've got the chance to see him again."

Pettitte announced his retirement in February 2011, saying he no longer felt the drive to keep pitching and that he wanted to help his wife, Laura, raise their children. Jeter joked that a year away from the game may have changed that.

"He retired mainly because he wanted to spend time with his family, but maybe Mama got a little tired of him a little bit and told him to come back out here and pitch," Jeter said, grinning.

When ready, Mo sees his retirement as final

TAMPA, Fla. -- The reason that Mariano Rivera continues to evade questions about his decision to retire is a simple one. The Yankees' closer loves the fact that Andy Pettitte is coming back, but he wouldn't ever want to be in the lefty's situation.

"I know that I want to make the right decision," Rivera said. "That's what I want to do. When I make the right decision, I don't want to come back or say, 'I should have done it' or 'I should have stayed.' I want to be one thousand percent sure that it's the right decision."

Rivera, 42, has been hinting at retirement all spring, and he repeated on Saturday that he is still secure in the decision that he reached before reporting to Spring Training -- widely believed to be that 2012 will be his final season.

But Rivera playfully told a group of reporters at his locker on Saturday that he could easily keep up the chess game of "Will he or won't he?" all season long, as he's no closer to spilling the secret.

"I'm a thousand percent sure, but I'm telling you, you guys are going to be under the skin and it isn't going to be easy like that," Rivera said. "I'm going to give you a hard time. ... And when I'm ready, I'll let you know."

Rivera confirmed the story that Pettitte told Friday, in which the closer pinned Pettitte against a Steinbrenner Field wall this spring and told him that it was time to come back to the Yankees.

"I did, when he came here," Rivera said. "Andy can help us. If it takes for me to say something, I will do it."

Even though Rivera proved unreachable to his fellow "Core Four" member, having shunned cell phones since his offseason throat surgery, Pettitte's decision was no surprise to Rivera.

"Everybody has their individual opinion," Rivera said. "He felt that he had to take a year off, I guess, and be with his family, support his family. He only knows the reasons. This is the way it is. He's a fighter, a player that doesn't give up. That's what Andy is."

As for Rivera, he turned in another breezy spring outing on Saturday in New York's 6-3 Grapefruit League win over the Astros, needing just eight pitches to get through a fifth inning that included a hit batsman, a strikeout and a double play.

"I feel good, thank you very much," Rivera said. "I felt good out there, got a little sweat. It was good."

Girardi urges Pettitte's competitors to step up

TAMPA, Fla. -- The ink was hardly dry on Andy Pettitte's contract when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman raised the topic of added scrutiny on the club's rotation this spring. His spoken attitude of "so be it" speaks volumes.

An opportunity to add a pitcher of Pettitte's caliber, assuming he can approach his 2010 form, was too great to pass up. If that affects Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia, both of whom are competing for the fifth starter's job, the Yankees are prepared to deal with the fallout.

"My message would be, if you don't want someone to take your job, go out and pitch well," manager Joe Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. It's not like Andy is going to break camp with us April 6; he's got to get ready and go out and pitch, so go out and control the things you can control. That's all you can do in this game."

Hughes said all the right things after his four scoreless innings against the Nationals on Friday, an outing that was overshadowed by Pettitte's signing but represented progress in the fifth-starter derby. By contrast, Garcia's response early Saturday morning seemed downright chilly.

"You play with the Yankees, nothing surprises you," Garcia said. "I don't really care. That's their decision. I'm here to pitch, and that's what I want to do."

Garcia said that the swelling in his right hand, hit by a batted ball on Wednesday, has improved, and Girardi expects the veteran to miss just one spring start. But when he was asked if Pettitte's signing was good for the team, Garcia seemed frustrated.

"I don't know, man," Garcia said, tossing his hands in the air. "Ask the people. I don't know. I guess."

The landscape has changed considerably since Garcia signed with the Yankees this winter. Following the finalization of his $4 million deal in November, the club acquired starters Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda and now Pettitte.

"I've seen Freddy just go about his business and try and get ready," Girardi said. "I think Freddy really believes that he can pitch. You never know what's going to happen. And I think Freddy has probably been through that before."

Bombers bits

• Eduardo Nunez returned to the Yankees' lineup on Saturday, going 1-for-2 in his comeback from a bruised right hand. Nunez hadn't played since he was hit by a pitch on March 5, and the plan is for him to play again on Sunday night against the Orioles.

• Girardi said he is looking toward Tuesday against the Pirates as his best opportunity to get Jeter (sore left calf), Russell Martin (sore groin) and Swisher (also out with a sore groin) back in the lineup. Girardi said all three players would be playable if it were the regular season.

 • Kuroda has twice lauded the game-calling abilities of Francisco Cervelli this spring. He complimented Cervelli again on Saturday, calling him "a great catcher and a big help." Kuroda is also very familiar with Russell Martin, his old batterymate from their Dodgers days together.

• Kuroda may be on the move very soon. His locker on pitchers' row at Steinbrenner Field is the same one that Pettitte occupied before his retirement, and so Kuroda said, "Of course I'm going to move out somewhere" if Pettitte wants the locker back.

• Dellin Betances picked up a save on Saturday with a scoreless ninth inning, but the Yankees still see the right-hander as a starting pitcher. Girardi said that he was trying to get Betances some work to keep him fresh for more extended outings later in the spring.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.