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Pettitte’s return turns heads

Yankees gain as retirement ends

file/Associated Press

ANDY PETTITTE Stunned Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The news that Andy Pettitte had come out of retirement to rejoin the Yankees came as a big surprise to the Red Sox.

“Really?’’ Josh Beckett said on Friday. “I’m really shocked. I didn’t expect that.’’

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Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, of course, couldn’t help but throw a few jabs.

“I thought they had too much pitching before. Now what do they have, too, too, too much pitching? He’s pretty good,’’ Valentine said. “Is he going to be a starter or just come in to pick people off?’’

Valentine did wonder aloud if Pettitte could return to the form he showed in 2010.

“I don’t think he’s coming back to where he was. Call it a hunch,’’ the manager said. “But he’s a good pitcher. Always respected Andy, always thought he was a borderline Hall of Famer. Add someone like that to your staff and you’re doing good.’’

David Ortiz, who has faced Pettitte more than any other pitcher in his career, predicted the lefthander would help the Yankees.

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“They need pitching. Everybody needs pitching. If you had a guy who is rested to come in and give you 10, 12 wins, that’s Andy’s situation, that would be a plus,’’ said Ortiz, who is 22 of 61 against Pettitte, including the postseason.

Ortiz said that based on his 240 career wins, Pettitte belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Fresh start

Carl Crawford took 15 controlled swings in the cage with both hands, the first time he has done that since developing inflammation in his surgically repaired left wrist and being shut down March 1.

“I felt fine, no pain or anything,’’ said Crawford, who started throwing this week.

Crawford’s program is being carefully monitored to avoid another setback.

“It’s great to see,’’ Valentine said. “We’re totally controlling it. I’ve had too many meetings on it so far, that’s how many meetings I’ve had. Too many. So we’re going to control it and he gets it. It’s a designed program that he’s going to stick to.’’

Twins top Sox

Jon Lester had a rough outing, needing 81 pitches to complete four innings. He allowed two runs on five hits, with two walks and two hit batters in a 2-1 loss to the Twins.

“Physically felt fine, just a little out of whack, out of rhythm,’’ Lester said. “Couldn’t really make the adjustment, be consistent and repeat. That was the big thing for me.’’

Andrew Miller, out since March 4 with a sore elbow, threw a scoreless inning and struck out two. He said later that he felt fine and could have gone another inning. Andrew Bailey had a perfect inning in his second spring appearance, striking out two.

Pedro Ciriaco doubled and scored on a Kevin Youkilis single in the fourth inning. Twins center fielder Joe Benson saved another run with a terrific catch of an Ortiz blast to the triangle in center. He caught the ball with his back to the plate after going a long way and earned a tip of the helmet from Big Papi.

Lars Anderson played the final three innings in left field for the Sox, his first time playing other than first base. He caught the only ball hit to him.

Twins starter Liam Hendricks pitched three scoreless innings, striking out four and not giving up a hit.

First cuts made

The Red Sox optioned outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin and third baseman Will Middlebrooks to Triple A Pawtucket and lefthanded pitcher Drake Britton and second baseman Oscar Tejeda to Double A Portland. Righthanders Tony Pena Jr., Chorye Spoone, and Alex Wilson were reassigned to minor league camp, along with outfielder Juan Carlos Linares. The Sox will probably drop some more players on Saturday following their split-squad doubleheader against the Orioles.

Iglesias scratched

Jose Iglesias, who had not played since last Saturday because of a groin strain, was in the lineup Friday night against the Twins, then scratched after taking batting practice . . . Jarrod Saltalamacchia missed a second day because of bursitis in his left hip. He will not catch Saturday but will get a series of at-bats in a minor league game . . . Ryan Sweeney, out with a strained left quadriceps, started hitting and jogging again and is a few days away . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka continued his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery with 17 pitches of live batting practice.

Prospect signed

The Sox signed 20-year-old righthander Simon Mercedes for $800,000, according to Baseball America. Mercedes once tried to pass himself off as “Jeffrey Tapia’’ and claimed he was two years younger. The Giants signed him for $400,000, but that deal was voided once the truth was revealed. MLB then banned Mercedes for a year, a ban that expired Wednesday. Mercedes is reportedly 6 feet 4 inches with a fastball that reaches 96 miles per hour and a good breaking ball. . . . Satoru Komiyama, who pitched for Valentine with the Mets in 2002 and again in Japan, attended Friday night’s game . . . Valentine was sorry to see the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team lose its first game in the NCAA Tournament, joking that it would hurt business at the sports bar and restaurants he owns in Stamford, Conn.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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