10/10/05 4:08 PM ET
Interview with Pettitte
Game 1 starter talks about being in the playoffs
By / MLB.com
ANDY PETTITTE: I mean, just, excited about it. Just really thankful that I was able to stay healthy all year and to contribute.
Again, like I've said before over and over, there's nothing worse than, you know, getting paid to do something and you don't feel like you're doing your job. That was where I was at last year.
So it's just nice to feel like that I can help out this organization and to help this team get to the playoffs. And then hopefully, you know, do good in the playoffs.
Smoltz said a while ago that what he doesn't want to see is the glove over your face and those two eyes because if he does, he knows you're locked in.
PETTITTE: They're going to be up there. I don't know if I'm locked in or not, I hope I'm locked in. Hopefully, I can get in a good rhythm. That's all, you know, you try to do is mechanically get in a good rhythm out there in the game and feel sound with all your pitches. Usually, that leads to having a good performance. That's what I'm hoping for.
Everyone's complimented you on your control. Does last year at all maybe help you at all in terms of becoming more of a pitcher than the power aspect?
PETTITTE: There's no doubt last year helped me. I found my changeup again last year. Like I've said before, I didn't have it, you know, for probably my last six or seven years in New York, I didn't have a good changeup that I was even using during the course of a game. It was nice to be able to find that pitch last year, being hurt. I don't know why, just I was able to start throwing it, and it's carried over into this year.
I've been using my changeup a lot this year and it's been a big pitch for me.
How much more comfortable has this year been for you, just the fact that you're healthy and you're one year removed from being out?
PETTITTE: There definitely is an adjustment period, for sure. Being at home, it was so different than for ten years being, you know, packing up and going to New York or whatever.
It's been a nice transition for me. Again, you know, last year, first start of the year is when I hurt my elbow. So immediately it was just a bad situation there in Houston last year.
This year has definitely been a breath of fresh air for me.
PETTITTE: Well, again, I mean, any time anybody tells me that, I've had some bad games, too. I don't know if those are the ones I always remember or what, but I've had some bad starts in the postseason but I've also had some really good ones. I mean, I have no idea, you know. Again, you try to get your focus every start, whether it's regular season or postseason, to a certain level. I think in the postseason you just get a little bit more focused. I know it's kind of strange to say, but if you've ever taken, you know most of you have never taken the mound obviously, but there's something different about the postseason and the intensity and the focus.
Hopefully, I get into that level and it helps me to be able to get out there and perform maybe a little bit better than I have in the regular season.
I'm not going to try to change anything. Just, again, I try to make pitches and just try to keep the ball down, make pitches. If you get in trouble, just make pitches and hopefully you get them out.
Brad Ausmus says if he could pick a starter to start Game 1, it would be you. What type of compliment is that from Brad Ausmus, and what type of responsibility does that bring to you?
PETTITTE: I mean, it's a great compliment, especially with the pitchers that we have on our staff, you know. I could pick several other ones that I would say, you know, should go before me.
That's a great compliment. I mean, I go out there, I think everybody knows that I prepare myself as best as I can, and I'm going to go out there and I'm going to give you everything that I've got every time I go out there, no matter what the situation is.
So that's a great compliment. I'm very thankful that, you know, my catcher and hopefully my teammates feel that way.
Joe Torre calls the game in '96 you pitched here the biggest game of the Yankee dynasty. Is that a vivid memory or does it seem like a million years ago?
PETTITTE: That one will always stay real close to me, you know. I remember that one like it was yesterday just because just being so young in the league and being able to start Game 1 of that World Series and, you know, New York not being there in so long. I didn't get out of the third inning in that Game 1.
To be able to come back, and in Atlanta and the last game in that stadium and stuff like that, and in those situations, that was a very special moment for me in my career.
I guess you're a year further removed now, do you follow closely what was going on in that Red Sox series with the Yankees? Or it's out of your mind now?
PETTITTE: It was so hard not to. We were kind of making a joke that there was a National League race going on. Everywhere you look, there was nothing but talking about the Yankees and Red Sox. I guess I'm getting a little taste of it with the Astros, of why everyone hates the Yankees so much, they're constantly on the news and getting the coverage and stuff.
Definitely you pay attention to what was going on and stuff like that, but I've got some great friends over there and still try to pay attention to what they were doing.
When you think back to '96, playing the Braves in the World Series, it was their pitching, the Braves had great pitching. What do you remember about that? Did the team talk about the Braves' pitching then? The roles are kind of reversed at this time.
PETTITTE: As far as did we talk about it back then?
Yes, how great the Braves were.
PETTITTE: Yeah, that was it, that was all that was talked about, their starters that they had and how good they were. Then we got down two and, you know, to them and how we had no chance to come back against those starters.
But, again, you've just got to play. Each game, you know, is a different game. You just plug away. We had some huge hits late in the game that turned some games around and that kind of nullified a couple of their good starts that they had when we got some big hits against their bullpen.
What did you do last year during the playoffs? Were you able to talk to guys, help scout, strategy wise? What kind of things did you do?
PETTITTE: I really did nothing except be kind of a cheerleader. Obviously, I'd talked to some of the guys that had never been there, stuff like that, and just tried to be there for anybody that had any questions or wanted to talk to, you know talk or anything.
A lot of times it's the postseason and nerves are kind of running wild a little bit and stuff like that. Sometimes it's just nice to talk to people and to get something off your chest, if you need to get it off your chest, before you play the game and stuff like that.
So really that was it, just tried to encourage everybody as much as I could.
Can you talk a little bit about what you'll be expecting from this Braves lineup you'll be facing tomorrow.
PETTITTE: Well, again, when you look at what they've done this year, obviously the first thing that stands out is just Andruw, with the power numbers that he's put up this year.
More than just looking at that, I just look at it as any other start, the top of them guys' lineups have speed, they're no different, you try to keep those guys off base because your 3, 4, 5 hitters, I feel like they're going to get their hits. You try to minimize the damage and just make quality pitches against them.
So really I know they got a good team. I know they got a great team. I'm going to go out and I'm just going to try to pitch as well as I can. I'm going to try to move the ball around the zone as well as I can, and hopefully just be successful against them.
Along the lines of what Brad said about you, Drayton said a couple days ago you are the MVP. What do you think about that, coming from the club's owner?
PETTITTE: Again, that's very nice. I appreciate him saying that. Again, I would say that there's a lot of other guys on the team that could definitely be the MVP of the team.
So any time I get any kind of compliment like that or whatever, you appreciate it. I like to kind of throw stuff in other people's direction instead of my direction and I'll probably always be like that, but it's very nice to hear that.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.