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Girardi discusses Andy Pettitte's anticipated return

It was supposed to be Andy Pettitte's day at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, but Mother Nature had other plans.

After missing 72 games during his 84-day stint on the disabled list, Pettitte was scheduled to make his first start since July 27 in the Yankees' series opener against the Blue Jays. Severe weather in New York derailed those plans, postponing a game at the Stadium for the first time this season and leaving Pettitte anxiously waiting one more day to return from injury.

"I would have loved to been able to throw [Tuesday] and have no rain and be able to make four starts, hopefully, before we go to a postseason game, but we can't do anything about it," Pettitte said. "I'm just looking forward to pitching [Wednesday]."

On the day Pettitte fractured his left leg, the Yankees owned a five-game lead in the American League East. When the left-hander starts the first game of a doubleheader against Toronto on Wednesday afternoon, he'll rejoin the team in the thick of a tight race for the division's top spot.

The Yankees have been tested since the start of September, as the series against the Blue Jays will be their seventh straight against a division opponent. The Bronx Bombers are tied with the Orioles for first in the AL East.

New York will get some added artillery in Pettitte, but he'll only be available for around 70 pitches on Wednesday. The 40-year-old returned from retirement in May and was one of the Yankees' front-line pitchers until he sustained the injury, compiling a 3-3 record and posting a 3.22 ERA in nine starts.

This will be Pettitte's first start against the Blue Jays this season, but Toronto's afternoon starter, Henderson Alvarez, is 2-2 with a 5.79 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season. The 22-year-old has thrown quality starts in his last two outings, allowing five earned runs in 13 1/3 innings in both victories.

With no off-days remaining, Yankees manager Joe Girardi pushed up right-hander David Phelps to start the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader.

Phelps went 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs in a start against the Blue Jays on Aug. 27, but he's also not entirely fresh. Girardi used him out of the bullpen on Sunday for two-thirds of an inning in a 6-4 win against the Rays.

Phelps will face-off against Ricky Romero, who was slated to be Tuesday's starter. In Romero's last start against the Yankees, he allowed two runs over seven innings but never got the run support he needed, as the Blue Jays only scored a run in New York's 2-1 win.

He and Alvarez will be tasked with spoiling Pettitte's return to the diamond and continuing to chip away at the Yankees' waning lead in the AL East.

Blue Jays: Escobar suspended for three games
Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended on Tuesday for three games after wearing eye-black stickers with a homophobic slur written in Spanish during a game in Toronto on Saturday.

Escobar said the slur is commonly used among Latino players, but he expressed remorse for his actions and said it was the only time he'd ever worn the phrase underneath his eyes.

The Blue Jays officially handed down the suspension, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos was at the Commissioner's Office with members of the MLB Player's Association, and all parties were involved in the discussion.

Yankees: Gardner could be activated
Outfielder Brett Gardner could return as soon as Wednesday in a limited role that would involve pinch-running and use as a defensive replacement.

It was initially believed Gardner wouldn't return this season, but the Yankees think the outfielder's speed could be valuable for the stretch run. Gardner resumed a hitting program since having arthroscopic elbow surgery on July 24, but he's not close to swinging a bat against Major League pitching.

Gardner has played in just nine games this season, but he stole 49 bases last season.

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