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Notes: Pettitte ready for Fenway fanfare

Notes: Pettitte ready for Fenway fanfare

NEW YORK -- With the Yankees' first trip this season to Fenway Park looming, rookie left-hander Chase Wright pulled Andy Pettitte aside on Thursday morning, picking the veteran's brain about an assortment of Boston-related topics.

The role of trusted veteran voice has been a constant and accepted one this year for Pettitte, who has fit right back in with the Yankees after three campaigns in the National League. He will receive his official reintroduction to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in a start on Friday.

Though Pettitte was always considered to be an intense competitor on the field and generous with his time off of it, Yankees manager Joe Torre said that he has noticed a change in Pettitte's second New York go-round.

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"The fact that he has taken on this role of 'mentor,' so to speak, it's a little different for him," Torre said.

"He looks around and sees where he can help someone. He doesn't do it in an arrogant way. He does it in becoming a friend or a counselor, or whatever that person happens to need. Andy's very aware of the clubhouse and the atmosphere."

Pettitte said he has enjoyed pitching at Fenway Park, where he is 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 regular-season games (nine starts).

He tried to impart that knowledge on Wright, and planned to do so again with Saturday's scheduled starter, rookie Jeff Karstens, opining that the most important piece of competing in the craziness of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is to simply block it out.

"It's all about trying to control yourself," Pettitte said. "It's going to be a different environment, and if you get all wrapped up in who's at the plate or whatever, you can get distracted and that causes more problems.

"The best advice I can give them is to be oblivious to what's going on. No matter what happens, you've just got to continue to try and make quality pitches. That's all you can do. If you look at it from that standpoint and remember we've got a pretty doggone good team behind us, you don't have a lot to worry about."

Asked if he had a favorite memory from his contests at Fenway, Pettitte first pointed to a 1996 matchup against Roger Clemens -- the second-to-last game of the season, and Clemens' final performance in a Boston uniform -- before chuckling and recalling the incident between Don Zimmer and Pedro Martinez in the 2003 ALCS.

"It's always fun," Pettitte said. "I'm looking forward to getting back there and getting involved in it again."

Though Pettitte faced the Red Sox twice in that 2003 postseason, winning ALCS Game 2 and taking a no-decision in Game 6, both of his performances were at Yankee Stadium.

His last start in Boston was back on Sept. 5, 2003, when Pettitte suffered a loss and didn't make it out of the third inning. He said he is looking forward to facing a Red Sox lineup that has changed quite a bit since Aaron Boone delivered the final crushing blow to end that thriller series.

The names may have changed, but the passion and vigor of the hometown fans probably haven't. Pettitte said he had no idea if that was true, but said, "I guess I'll find out."

2007 MLB franchise values
Forbes' estimated worth of the five most valued teams
Rank
Team
Value
1.
New York Yankees
$1,200,000,000
2.
New York Mets
$736,000,000
3.
Boston Red Sox
$724,000,000
4.
Los Angeles Dodgers
$632,000,000
5.
Chicago Cubs
$592,000,000

In the money: Forbes magazine reported Thursday that the Yankees continue to be far and away the Major Leagues' most valuable franchise, noting that the organization's value has risen 17 percent over the past year to $1.2 billion.

Through his spokesperson, Howard Rubenstein, Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner released a statement in which he said, "I am gratified at the Forbes valuation of the Yankees. We are continuing to build a worldwide brand for the people of New York and Yankee fans everywhere."

Last year, Forbes reported that the Yankees had become the Majors' first $1 billion team, estimating their value at $1.026 billion.

Testing time: Right-hander Carl Pavano, who is on the 15-day disabled list, was sent for a MRI exam Thursday at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York.

The examination, which was conducted by team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon, revealed a mild strain of the hurler's right elbow, which general manager Brian Cashman said was the expected diagnosis following the team's decision to disable Pavano during its series in Oakland.

Because the Yankees were on a six-game road trip at the time, Pavano had been not sent for examinations until Thursday. Cashman said Pavano -- who is 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts for New York this year -- is still scheduled to resume throwing on flat ground later in the week.

"He's doing everything he has to do to put himself in a position to be there for us," Cashman said. "That's all I can ask. I'm very satisfied with his work ethic and his commitment to be out there for us on the field when he's healthy."

Sanchez out for year: Another injured pitcher, right-hander Humberto Sanchez, underwent elbow ligament-replacement surgery Wednesday and will miss the rest of the season, according to the Associated Press.

Sanchez had the surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., Cashman told the AP. The Bronx-born Sanchez was acquired from the Tigers in November's Gary Sheffield trade and was in Major League camp during Spring Training but was most limited to soft-tossing and bullpen sessions.

When you're hot, you're hot: Torre said he could relate a small amount to Alex Rodriguez's recent run of success, in which some of his teammates have marveled that every swing seems to produce a home run.

That may be exaggerating the case, but Rodriguez dug down and cranked a two-run homer Wednesday on a Tom Mastny offering that was low and out of the strike zone.

Thinking back to his 1971 season for St. Louis, when Torre batted .363, the manager said he could appreciate the feelings Rodriguez must be having right now.

"You go to sleep at night, and you know who you're facing the next day," Torre said. "You know what pitch you're going to hit off this guy. That's the way I went to sleep."

Rodriguez entered play Thursday leading the Major Leagues with nine home runs and 23 RBIs. Torre said he believes Rodriguez is having more fun and is more comfortable, thoughts that have been echoed by the third baseman.

"He's put in his time here," Torre said. "He's taken criticism, he's gotten a lot of attention, and he got a little worn down last year. Hopefully his energy will stay where it is."

Waiting for delivery: Torre is mildly surprised that Melky Cabrera hasn't responded offensively to his extended playing time, assuming the role of regular left fielder while Hideki Matsui mends a strained left hamstring.

Matsui is working out at the Yankees' Spring Training facilities in Tampa, Fla., and is on target to rejoin the club Monday at Tropicana Field. It will be an easy decision for Torre to reinsert Matsui to the starting lineup and relegate Cabrera to a reserve role.

Cabrera went 1-for-4 in the Yankees' victory Wednesday but carried just a .180 average into play Thursday, and part of the reason has been an inclination to become too pull-happy.

"I think if we can keep him in the middle of the field, he'll have success," Torre said.

Quotable: "I walk in and the vendors say, 'Hi, Joe, good luck,' and they mean it. I don't know why they mean it, but they mean it. It's a friendly place to be for me and I enjoy it. But when that game starts, something happens to those people when they come through the turnstiles. They change. Sometimes they forget they won the World Series, because they're still angry, but you smile at it." -- Torre, on a visit to Fenway Park

Coming up: The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is renewed on Friday, as New York heads north to Boston for the first game of a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park. Pettitte (1-0, 1.50 ERA) makes his first start against the Red Sox since 2003 and faces off against a familiar foe, right-hander Curt Schilling (2-1, 2.84 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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