TAMPA, Fla. (WFAN/AP) — Andy Pettitte is one step closer to completing his much-anticipated comeback.

Pettitte increased his workload Tuesday by throwing in a simulated game, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks the 39-year-old could pitch in a spring training contest next week.

The left-hander threw 20 pitches in batting practice before making 13 more pitches to four batters in a simulated game.

“It was a good day, a positive day,” Pettitte said. “A step in the right direction. Just another step in the process.”

He will have another such session Friday or Saturday.

“I’m trying to get to the point where I can drive and explode for 100 pitches,” said Pettitte. “I’m a long way from there.”

Pettitte came out of retirement by agreeing to a minor league contract March 16.

“When I came here on that Tuesday morning and threw the bullpen, I just feel so comfortable on the mound,” he said. “It’s a pretty good place to be. I love doing it. God gave me the talent to be able to do that. I’m happy to be doing it for another year. I prayed long and hard with my wife and kids for this decision. I feel like this is where God wanted me to be right now.”

Also, Girardi said Hiroki Kuroda is lined up to follow opening day starter CC Sabathia, pitching at Tampa Bay on April 7.

That means Kuroda could be in place to start the Yankees’ home opener April 13 against the Los Angeles Angels.

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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