10/01/2002 10:45 pm ET
Another big October for Pettitte
Yankees starter prepared for eighth postseason
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- There were more road blocks along the way this time, most notably left elbow woes that put him on the shelf for nearly two months. But did you really expect Andy Pettitte to be doing anything in October besides getting ready to pitch a big game?
Here we go again, as Pettitte takes the ball for the Yankees in Game 2 of the Division Series against the Yankees. The 29-year-old left-hander with the Texas twang will make the 25th postseason start of his career Wednesday night.
An October hasn't gone by since 1995 when Pettitte hasn't been on this stage. He is one of the precious few who has been on board for this entire Yankee run of four championships and five pennants since 1996, joining Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera.
Needless to say, there are few more comforting sights for a Yankee player or fan than Pettitte with the ball on an October night.
"Andy's a tough competitor," said manager Joe Torre. "I've never forgotten the games he pitched in '96, especially after getting shelled the first game (of the World Series), coming back and pitching a tremendous Game 5."
That 1-0 victory over John Smoltz was Pettitte's most defining moment, but there have been several big games he's won in the last six years.
You could tell just by his relaxed demeanor in the pre-start press conference that he relishes this stage.
"I feel like we can raise it to a different level once we get to the postseason and the focus gets a little bit better," Pettitte said.
Switching from the past to the present, it just so happens he's pitched his best baseball of the season down the stretch. Pettitte was the AL Pitcher of the Month in September, going 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA.
In case you haven't guessed, the elbow is no longer a concern.
"It's been very gratifying for me from where I came from," said Pettitte. "I hurt my elbow in Spring Training and I felt that I was fully healthy again and I cranked it back up for the regular season. Then we went to Boston and I really injured it pretty good. Just being out for so long, and never really missing that much time before in my career, it took me a while to come back."
But he is indeed back, and pitching as well as ever. Pettitte is ready to come up big when it counts yet again.
"I don't remember a second half and having good stuff for as many starts as I have here in the second half," Pettitte said. "I've come in to the postseason throwing a few good games, or a couple terrible games in a row ... It feels good. Obviously I feel good right now about where I'm at. I'm looking forward to giving us some good quality starts here in the postseason."
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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at Ian.Browne@mlb.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its