04/04/12 5:15 PM ET
Pettitte returns to hill with scoreless inning
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The 39-year-old left-hander turned in a solid 13-pitch outing in the Yankees' Grapefruit League finale, an 8-3 win over the Mets at George M. Steinbrenner Field, permitting a single and facing the minimum three batters.
"It was good -- I felt good," Pettitte said. "It was good to be able to get out there and get the inning in, especially in a big league game. It's just another good step."
Pettitte opened the frame by working to a full count against outfielder Cory Vaughn, who chopped a single into shallow right field.
Scott Hairston popped out to shortstop Eduardo Nunez for the first out of the inning, and catcher Russell Martin -- who volunteered to catch Pettitte's first official bullpen session after the lefty signed a Minor League deal on March 16 -- caught Vaughn stealing for the second out.
"Definitely, it felt a little weird, there's no doubt about it, but once I got out there, it was just like I never left," Pettitte said. "On the day you pitch, you know something is different about your body. That's how I felt today. It was kind of that normal feeling that I'd normally feel."
Pettitte completed the inning by inducing catcher Mike Nickeas to ground out to second base, then he received another standing ovation as he exited.
"Obviously, that's good," Pettitte said. "I'm glad everybody's excited. I'm just trying to do what I need to do to get ready."
Pettitte threw only four pitches out of the strike zone, and Martin said the lefty seemed to hit all of his spots.
"He looked great," Martin said. "He was executing his pitches well. It was a short sample, but his cutter was good, he was locating his fastball well and he threw a couple of curveballs for strikes. Everything looked good today."
Manager Joe Girardi said it seemed there was a lot of additional interest in Pettitte's outing, even in the Yankees' clubhouse.
"It was good to see him get on the hill," Girardi said. "What I thought was pretty special to watch was how many of our guys stayed around to see him pitch. Usually when guys come out, they shower, ice and they go home. You had a lot of guys stay a long time today."
Building to a target of 100 pitches, Pettitte will remain behind in Tampa when the Yankees depart for Friday's regular-season opener. He said that he hopes to next progress to throwing his usual two bullpen sessions between starts and getting on a program where he pitches in games every fifth day.
"For me, I feel like the stuff is there," Pettitte said. "When I talk to [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild], he's like, 'Everything is right there.' I just need to build up the stamina. There's nothing I really feel like I need to work on."
Pettitte said he expects to make some starts for the Class A Tampa Yankees or in extended spring camp in the near future. He'd like to see a Double-A or Triple-A lineup at some point, and he's considered on track to rejoin the big league club in early May.
"I'm going to be here," Pettitte said. "That's what I think the plan is. I'm going to be here for a while. I would love to just be here, where I'm not going all over the place."