Before he made the commitment — before came out of retirement and told the Yankees he was willing to pitch again — Andy Pettitte found out for himself what he had left. Away from coaches, teammates and television cameras, Pettitte threw a series of winter bullpens at home in Texas. He knew better than anyone how much of the old workhorse remained.
Maybe that’s why he seems perfectly unimpressed by 19 strikeouts and a 2.53 ERA through his first three starts of the season.
“I felt like I’d be able to get back to where I was, so to say that I’m surprised, I’m really not,” Pettitte said. “I still feel like I have a ways to go as far as maybe mentally, as far as the focus I want to have, but other than that, I feel real good about my stuff and my pitches, where they’re at. All along, I’ve told you I feel really good about all my bullpen work and stuff like that. If you can get to a place mentally where you want to be, the way my pens were feeling from the get-go, I felt like I was going t be able to be successful.”
Obviously the Yankees believed Pettitte could be effective — Brian Cashman was willing to commit big money if Pettitte would have signed earlier — but he’s pitched into the seventh inning in each of his starts this season. In his past two starts, Pettitte’s gone 15 innings with 17 strikeouts and two walks.
The sample size is tiny. But it’s impressive. Heading into tonight’s game in Anaheim, Pettitte’s off to a better start than anyone but Pettitte himself might have hoped for.
“You think about not only the wins, but the distance he’s given us,” Girardi said. “It’s more than I expected.”
Associated Press photo