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Week in review: Getting the band back together

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For the Yankees, this week was defined by two people: Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.

Re-signing a pair of franchise icons was not a surprise, but it was necessary. Both Pettitte and Rivera considered retirement — at least loosely considered it — and both came back with nothing to prove and one thing to gain.

“I’m not just coming back to play,” Rivera said. “I’m coming back to win.”

That’s the mentality that’s defined both pitchers more than a decade, and in order to win, the Yankees are going to need both of them. Even in their 40s, Pettitte and Rivera were two of the better pitchers available, and they filled significant needs for this team. Maybe their contracts came as no surprise, but there’s no doubt the Yankees pitching staff is better today than it was a week ago.

[3]• The surprise of the week had to be Russell Martin’s two year deal with the Pirates. Sure, Pittsburgh had been rumored to be in the mix, but when Martin signed his deal, the lack of alternatives came front and center.

• In the wake of the Martin signing, Brian Cashman said he’s willing to stick with in-house catchers, indicating that Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and maybe even Austin Romine could legitimately open the season as the Yankees starter. It’s either another Bubba Crosby situation, or a sign of the Yankees commitment to a new method of roster construction.

• Despite pictures in the New York Post that suggested Derek Jeter is out of shape, Cashman said Jeter’s recovery from ankle surgery is going quite well. Cashman expects Jeter to be ready for Opening Day, but Cashman also said he’s actively looking for additional infield depth.

• Jayson Nix avoided arbitration with a $900,000 contract, and was immediately designated for assignment to open a roster spot for Rivera. He has agreed to accept the Triple-A assignment if he clears waivers.

• In another roster move, the Yankees swapped right-handed relievers. They claimed Jim Miller off waivers from Oakland and designated recently claimed Mickey Storey. Miller has pretty good numbers, and the Yankees have had some luck with these sort of bullpen additions.

• One other minor move: The Yankees designated Eli Whiteside for assignment to open a roster spot for Pettitte.

• The Yankees tendered contract offers to everyone on the roster. The deadline to do so was Friday night.

• There were rumors of a Yankees contract agreement with Ichiro Suzuki, but that report was quickly shot down. There was another report — one that lingered — saying the Yankees are at least somewhat interested in Shane Victorino.

• Yankees Triple-A manager Dave Miley was named the minor league Manager of the Year by Baseball America.

• Speaking of minor league coaching staffs, the Red Sox plucked Greg Colbrunn out of the Yankees system. Colbrunn has been the Yankees Low-A hitting coach, but he’s now joined Boston as the Red Sox big league hitting coach.

• Baseball America named Slade Heathcott the sixth-best prospect in the Arizona Fall League, while Romine and Mark Montgomery were named to the Fall League’s Top Prospects team.

• The Hall of Fame ballot was released and it’s full of suspected steroid users. Bernie Williams and Don Mattingly are among those returning to the ballot. Roger Clemens is among the first timers.

• Baseball mourned the death of Marvin Miller.

Associated Press photos