NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte is not yet an American League All-Star, but that is fully expected to change when CC Sabathia throws his first pitch against the Mariners in one week at Safeco Field.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi used one of his choices for the AL roster on Sabathia, who will not be able to participate in the game if he pitches on Sunday due to a new rule that was instituted this season.

Girardi strongly hinted on Sunday that he plans to simply replace Sabathia with Pettitte, thus crediting two deserving Yankees hurlers with a trip to Angel Stadium.

"That is a move that will possibly be made at the end of the week, when one pitch is thrown on Sunday," Girardi said, with a smile.

Sabathia was 10-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts for New York, while Pettitte was 10-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 16 starts and had even warranted some discussion in certain circles about a possible All-Star Game start. Instead, he would be heading to Anaheim as a replacement.

"It's fine. This is a way we can do it where we get guys on our team to get there," Pettitte said. "I believe CC deserves to be there, and this is a great way to make sure that he's there."

Girardi explained the reasoning to Pettitte on Sunday and said that the 38-year-old lefty -- who is looking to make his third All-Star team and first since 2001 -- understood.

"The one thing about being the manager is, and knowing your rotation, you know who's throwing on Sunday and you know a lot of other guys who are throwing on Sunday," Girardi said.

"I thought CC was very deserving as well as Andy. Andy is very deserving. I would hate the fact that one guy wouldn't make it because he was pitching on Sunday. In this case, we could have a couple of left-handers."

Pettitte said that he was not disappointed with being excluded from the first round of announcements.

"It's a chance to be in the All-Star Game, and [Sabathia] deserves to be there," Pettitte said. "If we can take more guys from our team, it's a good situation. ... I love it that he's going to be there. That's awesome. Hopefully, I'll be able to be there also.

-- Bryan Hoch

Thames returns from DL; Huffman optioned

NEW YORK -- The Yankees activated outfielder Marcus Thames from the disabled list on Sunday and optioned Chad Huffman to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Thames last played on June 12 against the Astros, when he suffered a strained right hamstring while chasing down a double in left field. He was not in the starting lineup in the finale with the Blue Jays.

"I'm happy to be back. It feels like I've been gone forever," Thames said. "I was getting frustrated there for a bit because I thought I was going to be back sooner than I was."

Thames played in four rehabilitation games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre during the last week, spending two as the designated hitter and two more in the outfield. Thames went 3-for-15 at the plate and said he was quickly tested on the bases and in the field.

"I had to score from first on the second day," Thames said, adding that he had to track down fly balls in all directions during his time in the outfield. "I had to do it all."

Thames was receiving fairly consistent playing time as the Yankees' fourth outfielder and part-time DH before his injury. Prior to going on the DL, Thames made 25 starts, batting .276 with two homers and 10 RBIs, including a walk-off long ball against the Red Sox on May 17. Thames has done most of his damage against left-handers, hitting .302.

Huffman hit .167 in nine games for the Yankees since being recalled on June 13 to replace Thames on the roster.

Yankees get consistency from Cano, Teixeira

NEW YORK -- As the Yankees officially reach the midpoint of their season on Sunday with their 81st game, the right side of the club's infield has been remarkably consistent.

Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano are two of only six Major Leaguers to start every one of their team's games this season, joining Ichiro Suzuki, Michael Young, Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard.

"It's a good thing we have two guys who are so durable like that and can still be productive," manager Joe Girardi said.

One thing that has helped Girardi keep those two bats in the lineup is been his use of the designated hitter. Teixeira has made five starts as the DH, to get what Girardi calls a "half day off" while Cano has made one start at DH. During the past four games, Girardi has been able to partially rest Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter by slotting them in as the DH for a day.

Of course, playing every day is nothing new for Teixeira and Cano. Teixeira has twice played all 162 games in a season and has averaged more than 150 games per season throughout his career. Cano, meanwhile, has played in 561 of 567 games since the start of 2007.

Worth noting

Nick Johnson was on his way to Tampa on Sunday to continue his rehabilitation. After meeting with team doctors on Saturday, Johnson did not hit off a tee as planned, but the team expects him to take swings and hit off a tee within the next week. Johnson has been out since May 8 with an inflamed tendon in his right wrist. ... The Yankees celebrated Independence Day, and owner George Steinbrenner's 80th birthday, by displaying all seven World Series trophies won during Steinbrenner's tenure outside the Yankees Museum at the Stadium on Sunday. ... The Yankees wore the special white Stars & Stripes cap on Sunday for the second time this season. The Bombers beat the Indians, 11-2, on May 31 wearing the white caps.