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“Here we are,” Girardi said. “He truly loves the game, and he loves the Yankees.”

Cashman said he offered Pettitte a deal in the $10-12 million range in December.

“The reason I couldn’t commit to the Yankees earlier was because I needed to go through (the workout) process,” Pettitte said. “During my bullpen work right now, I feel it all coming back. I’m ready for that challenge.”

For many years, Pettitte was among the Yankees‘ most dependable pitchers. He is 19-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 42 career postseason starts.

“It’s exciting to have him back,” Yankees opening day starter CC Sabathia said. “He’s a great teammate. When you can pitch the way he can, it’s hard to stay away.”

New York catcher Russell Martin was enthused about Pettitte’s return.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said.

The rival Boston Red Sox were interested in seeing him, too _ and wary of his motion.

“He’s pretty good. Is he going to be a starter? Or is he just going to come in and pick people off?” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.

“I don’t think he’s coming back the way he was. But he’s a borderline Hall of Famer. When you add somebody like that to your staff, you’re doing good,” he said.

Boston designated hitter David Ortiz has faced Pettitte a lot over the years.

“The Yankees gave him a chance to come back and perform because they think he can come back and perform, but he’s not 25 anymore. Know what I’m saying? So the Yankees also know they’re running the risk of him coming back and not performing well. So they know we are up to all those challenges,” Ortiz said.

“If he comes back and doesn’t perform well, you guys are just going to say, `Well, he’s not 25 anymore. He took a year off.’ He’s what, 39? All that goes against him. If he comes back and performs well, `The guy is a natural,’” he said.

New York currently has four starters, besides Pettitte, looking to fill three rotation spots behind Sabathia and Kuroda.

“It’s one of those things, I feel there’s nothing but upside here,” Cashman said.