The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Pettitte: “This is where my heart was”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Mar 21, 2012 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

For the purposes of the blog, last night’s Andy Pettitte press conference didn’t come at a great time because the game barely 30 minutes after he finished speaking. I have to drive directly to Port Charlotte this morning, so this seems like as good a time as any to post some highlights. I’ll have notes and a lineup as soon as I get to the Rays spring training complex. For now, here’s Pettitte:

On forcing himself to take it slow
“In my mind, the last few days, I’ve been really set on, ‘You’ve got to take it slow.’ We’ve got plenty of time. I told Larry as soon as I got done (with yesterday’s bullpen), ‘You’re going to have to make me take it slow.’ I feel really good, so maybe that’s just my mentality. It’s going to be hard, but I need to take it slow. I’m glad I feel good right now, but I haven’t done anything in terms of covering bases or running around. I know if I get too far ahead of myself, I could have a setback. I don’t want to have that.”

On when he could be in a big league game
“I know we’ve talked and it’s been out there. I would imagine I probably would need six weeks. I know we’re kind of looking at May 1. Again, I’m not going to set any dates because I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen as I come back. I hope everything goes absolutely perfect and everything goes absolutely smooth, but we’ll just see. So we’re trying not to set a target date on that. I’ve got to tell you, I went out to throw my pen today and I said, ‘Larry, I feel like I could be ready in maybe three weeks.’ Obviously he’s like, ‘Whoa! Hold up. No way on that.’ I’m just going to see how it goes. The stamina, I’m going to have to build up the stamina to be able to throw 100 pitches and that’s going to take a little while to get there.”

On whether there’s any concern that this might not go well
“Not really. There’s not. There’s really not just because I know that could happen. I know I could hurt something. I could go out and I could blow my elbow out again, but I’m not scared of that. A lot of people have talked to me about, you went out and you pitched great (in your last season). But that never was that important to me. It’s a great opportunity. The Yankees gave me a great opportunity. It’s a great challenge. I think as a man sometimes you want to follow your heart and you want to do what you feel is the right thing to do, but it’s also, I feel like it’s a good challenge also to see if I can get back to where I was. That’s what I look at it as. I know, no matter what happens, that I have prayed about this decision with my family and with my kids for an awful long time, and we all feel good about it, and we all feel right about it. No matter what happens, I’m going to be good with it, because I feel like it’s the right thing to do in my heart. It may not be a happy ending from a standpoint of me getting hurt and me not being able to do what I feel like I want to do, and that’s help us get to a World Series and help us win a World Series. That’s the plan. I realize it might not work out that way.”

On whether he’s been surprised by his early progress
“Today I’m not surprised. When I started throwing I was a little surprised. But that’s when I was able to be over the hump as far as saying I felt like I could get back mentally to where I was. I’ve been throwing a lot. I hadn’t been working out, but I’d been throwing so much, so my arm has always been feeling really good with the kids throwing so much. But a couple of weeks ago in my pens at the house, it’s like you just start feeling it. I just started feeling it. I was like, ‘I can feel this again. I can feel the pitches going where I want them to.’ I am a little surprised that I felt as good as I did today, that quickly. We’ll just have to see where it goes. Hopefully it will continue to get that good. I guess I am a little surprised, but I’m not shocked because when this decision was made to say I feel like I could fully do this, this is where I expected it to get to.”

On his evolution as a pitcher
“I feel like I came into the league as a more complete pitcher, and then I learned the cutter and then it was just more hard cutters, hard four-seamers in. I kind of feel like I wasn’t quite the complete pitcher and I lost the feel for my changeup and really struggled there. I was still able to be successful because I was on great teams, but I struggled from the standpoint of just trying to command both sides of the plate with my changeup. I think I said it, when I had my elbow surgery in Houston and my velocity came way down, I felt like that was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me as far as just learning how to pitch again. I came back early from the flexor tendon surgery and my velocity was way down, and I had to learn how to throw my changeup again and control the outside corner. The evolution of that and me being able to figure that out again, and then me being able to come back to the Yankees the last four years that I was here, just being able to control both sides of the plate. I wouldn’t be able to do this, especially not in this division, if I wasn’t able to throw the ball and all my pitches to both sides of the plate.”

On whether he would have considered pitching elsewhere
“When I came the first day of spring training this year (as a guest instructor), I knew that I needed to let Cash know that I was interested in pitching, let him and Hal (know). So the day I got here I told them that. It wasn’t like I got here and I had a bug to play because I was around the guys or whatever. That would never have anything to do with me making a decision of this magnitude, just getting a little bit of a bug being around the team. I knew it was something I was considering to do, and I thought they would probably sign me within a couple of days and I would be ready for Opening Day, so obviously it’s taken a little bit of time to get to where we’re at. There’s no doubt, I had to think, ‘Well my goodness, this is getting difficult to try to figure out if they really want to bring me back here. Should I even consider doing it anywhere else?’ When me and my wife talked about it and there was no considering going anywhere else. Obviously I think I could have probably considered other places and got a lot more money, but this is where my heart was. I had no desire to go anywhere else.”

Associated Press photo




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