Consider this the first scheduling hiccup of the Empire State Yankees' 144-game road trip.
Andy Pettitte is working himself into shape as he comes out of retirement with the Yankees, and his rehab start on Sunday with Triple-A Empire State was scheduled for Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, N.Y., home of the New York-Penn League's Batavia Muckdogs.
The International League franchise, more familiar as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, is on the road all season while its ballpark in Pennsylvania goes through a $43.3 million renovation. It's playing most of its games at Rochester's Frontier Field, home of the fellow IL member Red Wings.
The Yankees are playing at a few other nearby ballparks as well, however, and Sunday's game against Pawtucket was scheduled for Batavia. But no longer. The parent Yankees would prefer Pettite to pitch at a Triple-A facility, rather than a short-season ballpark.
There's also the matter of Dwyer Stadium's capacity of 2,600. With Pettitte scheduled to be on the mound, a huge crowd should turn out. And with the Red Wings bearing the brunt of operating a second franchise this season, they should welcome the bigger gate.
"The Yankees would prefer to have Andy Pettitte pitching at a Triple-A stadium in front of a large crowd," Red Wings president Naomi Silver said Thursday. "It's more of the environment he is used to pitching in. It is true that we would top out at about 2,000 people in Batavia, while here at Frontier Field it would be 11,000 or 12,000 people . . .
"This has certainly been a decision in (the Yankees') hands. We speculated a bit that Sunday might be his day to pitch, that it could happen. We really only learned of their decision 45 minutes ago."
One complication, however: The Red Wings were already scheduled to play at home on Sunday. In order to accommodate the Yankees' request, that game against the Buffalo Bisons will now be played as part of a doubleheader on Saturday. The Red Wings, who also own and operate the Muckdogs, have said fans who had already purchased tickets for the game in Batavia will be able to use them in Rochester.
Rochester is serving as the home base for Empire State during its road trip. The Yankees were scheduled to play 37 of their home games in Rochester, seven in neighboring Batavia and the remaining dates at four other International League franchises.
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