Andy Pettitte wasn’t going through the motions this afternoon. He was going through the Philadelphia Phillies. During his three-inning simulated game in the indoor cage at Steinbrenner Field, pitching coach Dave Eiland called balls and strikes while Pettitte acted as if he were facing the Phillies lineup.
“I didn’t give up a hit in three innings,” Pettitte said. “Unfortunately, this is what we had to do. I got my normal warm-up in, and then I got all of my throws in. And I’m tired. That was the biggest thing, I just wanted to make sure I’m good and fatigued. Obviously I would have loved to have faced hitters, but the way the weather’s been, I just had to get my work in here today.”
Eiland forced Pettitte into various game situations, occasionally calling a foul ball instead of a strike three. When Pettitte finished with his 50 pitches, he was sweating. Maybe he wasn’t exhausted, but he’d certainly been working.
“You’re trying to challenge him,” Eiland said. “You’re also trying to get his pitch count up. You don’t want to just call balls and strikes, you want to make it kind of game-like. He may throw a pitch in a certain count that might get a swing, but I’m not going to give it to him. You have to make it a challenge. It can’t be a go-through-the-motions thing.”
Pettitte chose the Phillies because that’s who he’ll face on Wednesday in his spring training debut. Twelve years ago, such a late spring training debut might have worried him, but not today.
“I’m just at a stage where, emotionally, I’m not going to get overwhelmed when I’m in a regular game,” Pettitte said. “It’s not going to change that much.”
Here’s Pettitte speaking roughly 60 seconds after his final pitch.