Obviously there are two players in the Yankees clubhouse who have a unique perspective on Andy Pettitte’s return. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera didn’t talk about Pettitte yesterday, but they each chimed in today, answering basically the same series of questions about their long-time friend and teammate.
How long did you know Pettitte was planning to come back?
JETER: “How long did I know he was coming back? You don’t know anything until it happens. I know he was itching, thinking about it, but a lot of people say that. … You can think about it all you want, but you really don’t know. There’s a lot of things that have to come into play before you say I’m going to come back. If you ask Boomer, he’d probably say he wants to come back too. I’m just using Boomer as an example, but a lot of things have to line up.”
RIVERA: “I had kind of an idea, but the last decision was made by Andy. He came here (in February) and he shared that he wanted to maybe come back. I said, ‘We support you in any way that we can.’ … It’s definitely hard to go away. It runs in your blood and your system, but at the same time, we are different. Everybody has their individual opinion. He felt that he had to take a year off, I guess, and be with his family, support his family. He only knows the reasons. This is the way it is. He’s a fighter, a player that doesn’t give up. That’s what Andy is.”
Did you try to convince him to come back?
JETER: “Sometimes when people make decisions like that, you’re there to listen. You give them your thoughts about it but I would never try to steer someone in one direction or the other. You give him your opinion, you want what’s best for him, but I would never try to pressure him one way or the other.”
RIVERA: “I did. I did. When he came here. Andy can help us. If it takes for me to say something, I will do it.”
Will it be hard for him to pitch at this level after a year away?
JETER: “I don’t know. I don’t know exactly what he’s been doing, I don’t know if he’s been pitching a lot. I have no clue. So you’d have to ask him. I have no idea what it takes for a pitcher to get ready anyway. Some of them don’t do much and they get ready pretty quick. But one thing about andy, he works hard, he works extremely hard and I would assume he’s always worked hard.”
RIVERA: “Pitching is not easy. When you take a year off plus, and you expect that you’re going to be ready as you’re used to, it ain’t going to happen like that. He’s going to take his time. That’s what he has to do. He has to work hard with the knowledge that he hasn’t pitched in a year. A guy like Andy, you know he will do the right thing before he goes to help the team.”
Can Pettitte be as good as he was when he left?
JETER: “I don’t even know what year we’re in. What is this, ’12? His last year was ’10? Andy’s always pitched well. Andy for the most part always gives you a chance to win and that’s all you can ask for from a team is someone to go out there and keep you in the game, and he’s done that, he knows how to pitch. He knows his ability, he knows what he’s capable of, and he’s gotten smarter over the years.”
RIVERA: “The drive and desire doesn’t go away. You see Yogi always talking about the game, so that will never go away. What goes away is the conditioning. You guys saw him. He’s in great shape. He’s in baseball shape, so he’ll be ready. … I think Andy can be anything that he wants. He’s young.”