With plenty to prove, Pettitte and Hampton look sharp in spring training debuts Print
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Sunday, 02 March 2008 17:32
MLB Headline News

 Andy Pettitte looked focused and Mike Hampton was healthy. Everything went just right Sunday for two left-handers with plenty to prove this spring.
After spending the past few months answering questions about performance-enhancing drugs, Pettitte pitched two scoreless innings for the New York Yankees in a 7-7 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies at Tampa, Fla.
He allowed an infield hit and picked off a runner at first base with owner George Steinbrenner and his son, senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner, watching from a suite.
``All in all, I was real happy,'' Pettitte said. ``It definitely was a good day.''
Pettitte struck out one, walked one and induced an inning-ending double play in the first. He threw 13 of 21 pitches for strikes in his first outing since apologizing last month for using human growth hormone in 2002 and 2004.
Pettitte also is in the middle of a dispute between ex-teammate Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee, the former trainer of the two pitchers. Pettitte told Congressional lawyers that Clemens informed him nearly a decade ago that he used HGH.
Last Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking the Justice Department to investigate whether Clemens committed perjury or made knowingly false statements to the committee during its investigation into performance-enhancing drugs.
Pettitte's testimony, among other things, was cited in the letter to Mukasey. The FBI said it opened an investigation into whether Clemens lied in sworn testimony about steroids and HGH, and Pettitte acknowledged he's prepared to be interviewed again about his longtime friend.
On the field, however, Pettitte wants to make sure he's not distracted.
``I just can't wait until the day where I don't have to answer a whole lot of questions about that,'' he said. ``I think I've told you all, I can't do any more than I've done. I've apologized. I've got a job to do now. I can't waste any more energy emotionally on that whole deal.
``I'm just looking forward to pitching and trying to help this team, and trying to help these guys on the staff. I don't foresee it being a problem, really. I don't. No way possible that's going to be, if I have struggles or whatever, going to be an excuse for me because that's no excuse.''
Jason Giambi had four RBIs for the Yankees. He hit a three-run homer off Cole Hamels and added an RBI double.
At Kissimmee, Fla., Hampton pitched two scoreless innings in his first appearance against major league batters in two years, helping Atlanta beat a Houston Astros split squad 6-4.
Hampton has been sidelined with shoulder and elbow injuries and, most recently, a leg injury. He hasn't pitched in a big league game since 2005, but Braves manager Bobby Cox said he still has Hampton penciled in for a spot in the rotation.
``I am not going to downplay the importance of today,'' Hampton said. ``It's a step-to-step process to get ready by opening day, but this was promising.''
Hampton won 22 games for Houston in 1999 and was the 2000 NL championship series MVP with the New York Mets. He won a total of 27 games for the Braves in 2003 and 2004, but went 5-3 in 2005 and hasn't pitched in the majors since.
Hampton was sharp Sunday, striking out his first batter, Michael Bourne, on four pitches. He allowed only one single and went to two balls on just one batter, throwing 15 of his 22 pain-free pitches for strikes.
``I still have a ways to go,'' Hampton said. ``My arm feels great but my legs aren't all there yet. I just wanted to stay near the strike zone, and getting that first hitter to strike out was just great.''
Despite the layoff, Hampton said he wants to be treated like any other Braves starter this spring. He is part of a five-man rotation that includes John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chuck James and Tim Hudson.
``He was absolutely outstanding,'' Cox said. ``He's been rusty after more than two years and he still hit 93 (mph).''
Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was a late scratch. He tweaked his right hamstring and is expected to miss a couple of days as a precaution.
At Jupiter, Fla., Hanley Ramirez gave the Marlins a scare when he was involved in a violent collision at home plate.
Florida's star shortstop collided with St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina while trying to score from first base in the first inning of a 5-4 win over the Cardinals. Ramirez remained on the ground for several minutes before walking off the field with a slight limp. He stayed in the game and went 2-for-4 in six innings.
In other news, Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano broke his right middle finger when he was hit with a flyball during fielding drills in Mesa, Ariz. He is expected to miss three to five days.
In other spring training games:
Brewers 4, Angels 2
At Phoenix, Prince Fielder bristled about having his contract renewed for $670,000 before going 1-for-1 and making a circus play at first base in the third inning when his glove was knocked off his hand by a sharply hit grounder. Jon Garland pitched two scoreless innings in his debut with the Angels.
Mariners 6, Padres 2
At Peoria, Ariz., NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy gave up four hits and two runs in two innings, and the Padres' right-hander took a line drive off the heel of his glove. The ball caromed hard into Peavy, below the belt.
Mets 6, Dodgers 5
At Vero Beach, Fla., Derek Lowe blanked New York for two innings.
Twins 8, Red Sox 2
At Fort Myers, Fla., Clay Buchholz, trying to nail down the fifth spot in Boston's rotation, allowed hits to his first five batters and gave up four runs in two innings. Minnesota's Livan Hernandez gave up a solo homer to World Series MVP Mike Lowell.
Blue Jays 8, Reds 4
At Dunedin, Fla., Matt Stairs homered off new Reds closer Francisco Cordero. Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett allowed two runs and three hits in two innings.
Rays 7, Pirates 5
At Bradenton, Fla., B.J. Upton tripled in two runs and scored for Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh's Tom Gorzelanny pitched a scoreless inning four days after being scratched from a start because of shoulder soreness.
Orioles 11, Nationals (ss) 10
At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Nick Markakis hit his first homer this spring. He is batting .571.
Indians 3, Tigers 1
At Winter Haven, Fla., Jake Westbrook and seven other Cleveland pitchers held Detroit's strong lineup to four hits.
Nationals (ss) 8, Astros (ss) 3
At Kissimmee, Fla., Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer, and Wily Mo Pena and Ronnie Belliard added solo shots.
Diamondbacks (ss) 7, White Sox (ss) 6
At Hermosillo, Mexico, Nick Swisher hit two home runs and a triple for the White Sox. Justin Upton went 3-for-3 and Stephen Drew hit his first home run of the spring for the Diamondbacks.
Diamondbacks (ss) 12, White Sox (ss)
At Tucson, Ariz., Javier Vazquez gave up two homers and five runs in 2 1-3 innings.
Mexican National Team 2, Rockies (ss) 1
At Tucson, Ariz., Jeff Francis threw 45 pitches, allowing one earned run in three innings.
Athletics 3, Rockies (ss) 2
At Phoenix, Oakland's Bobby Crosby hit his second home run of the spring.
Giants 8, Cubs 6
At Mesa, Ariz., Matt Cain pitched three scoreless innings in his spring training debut for San Francisco. Chicago lefty Ted Lilly allowed one run in two innings, and Felix Pie hit his second home run.
Rangers 8, Royals 7
At Surprise, Ariz., Jason Jennings pitched two scoreless innings in his first start for his hometown Texas Rangers. Ryan Roberts hit a tying, two-run homer in the ninth.
 

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