Andy Pettitte happy to be back on field instead of in witness chair Print
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Tuesday, 19 February 2008 14:04
MLB Headline News

 TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Andy Pettitte played catch on the outfield grass at Legends Field on a cloudless morning with a brisk wind, and fans yelled encouragement from the stands. This was a lot better than testifying and apologizing.
Wearing a dark windbreaker with the New York Yankees' interlocking ``NY'' instead of a business suit, the pitcher got back to as normal as his life can be. He was sore - his feet, that is, from wearing in spikes
``The guys have just been so supportive. Every single one has given me a hug and tells me they're proud of me,'' he said. ``It's made me feel so good.''
After admitting he used human growth hormone in 2002 and 2004, and after testifying Roger Clemens told him nearly a decade ago that he had used HGH, Pettitte was relieved to get back to baseball. Pettitte said former Yankees manager Joe Torre called him 30 minutes before Monday's news conference to say he was proud of him.
``I feel good about it,'' Pettitte said. ``I told the truth. I spoke from my heart and just tried to be myself.''
Yankees officials were pleased with the way Pettitte handled the situation.
``I thought it was great,'' senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said. ``Everybody said he seemed to be uptight, but he was very relaxed when he met with me and my dad and Hal, and he seemed to me to be fairly relaxed during the conference. I think he's going to be fine.''
When Pettitte spoke about new manager Joe Girardi and said ``the jury's still out,'' he immediately laughed, realizing ``jury'' is not a good word to use these days, given that he might be called to testify in either in criminal proceedings or Clemens' lawsuit against Brian McNamee, the former trainer for the two pitchers.
Pettitte said he repeatedly thanked Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada for attending his news conference - his estimate of thank yous ranged from 10 to 100.
Pettitte also misses not talking to Clemens, his friend and former teammate. Clemens said Pettitte ``misremembers'' the conversation Pettitte testified about.
``I hate it that we haven't been able to really communicate, you know, because of the situation,'' Pettitte said. ``It's sad.''
Pettitte is reticent because there may be more proceedings.
``I want to talk to him. I want to,'' he said. ``I think because of what's going on, it might be a little difficult.''
As position players reported a day ahead of their first workouts, Jason Giambi remembered a similar situation he faced in 2005. Giambi gave a nonspecific apology and didn't confirm his use of steroids until speaking last year with baseball investigator George Mitchell last year.
``It's not always the best to be the first,'' Giambi said.
Giambi is willing to offer advice to Pettitte - if Pettitte wants it.
``I just saw him today, and just asked him if was OK and gave him a hug,'' Giambi said.
Johnny Damon said Pettitte's plight should be educational for other athletes.
``Seeing what Andy, one of the nicest human beings on the planet, is going through, you know that's definitely a wakeup call,'' he said. ``If you get busted with steroids - I mean, that stuff is illegal. You know, you should get in trouble.''
Damon said he never was tempted to use performance-enhancing drugs.
``When I was 13 years, I mean I was 6-1, 180 pounds, bench pressing 250,'' he said. ``I was just a freak. I never had to.''
Following an injury-filled season, Damon reported at 214 pounds, 4 fewer than last year. He knew general manager Brian Cashman said during the offseason that Damon arrived at spring training last year out of shape and said he worked out more this offseason.
Damon lost the center field job to Melky Cabrera last year and likely will see most of his playing time this year in left field.
``I'm ready to go out there and, you know, prove to everyone I'm still a pretty good player,'' Damon said. ``I've been pretty consistent over my career but I - you know, when you talk about good players in the league, you know, my name hardly comes up and I don't think that's right. I think I really need to go out there and show them.''
Entering the final season of his $120 million, seven-year contract, Giambi dropped 3 pounds and reported at 237. He said his legs feel better than they have in recent years and he hopes to see consistent time at first base - which would allow Hideki Matsui to be a designated hitter.
``I have the ability to run a lot more, so I feel a lot leaner,'' Giambi said. ``Maybe do an underwear ad this year.''
Notes: Hank Steinbrenner reiterated that Joba Chamberlain might start the season in the bullpen. ``I think that Joe and Dave are thinking of starting him in the bullpen,'' Steinbrenner said, referring to Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland. ``We've got to build up his innings. He didn't have many innings last year, and baseball history is littered with 22-, 23-year old pitchers that were thrown into the mix, fulltime starters that had arm trouble and never pitched again. We don't want that for our guys.'' ... Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, a spring training instructor, is scheduled to arrive on Feb. 27.
 

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