Jeter praises Pettitte

Jeter praises Pettitte

NEW YORK -- As the follow-up to last week's Mitchell Report continues, Derek Jeter praised Andy Pettitte's recent admission of performance-enhancing drug use, while cautioning against hurrying to a decision on allegations toward Roger Clemens.

The Yankees captain addressed the topics on Thursday in New York, while attending a function for his Turn 2 Foundation at the Ziegfeld Theater. Jeter said he reached out to Pettitte recently to discuss the issues, and said the left-hander would not require special attention in Spring Training.

"Andy knows how I feel about him, and he knows how we feel about him as an organization," Jeter said. "It took a lot of courage for him to come out and be honest about it. Hopefully he can move on."

In a statement released through his agent last week, Pettitte admitted using human growth hormone on two occasions during the 2002 season, as alleged in testimony given by former Yankees strength coach Brian McNamee.

Through his agent and his attorney, Clemens has strongly denied McNamee's allegations that the seven-time Cy Young Award winner used both steroids and human growth hormones on various occasions beginning during the 1998 season.

"He's always been a great teammate," Jeter said of Clemens. "Now, it seems like people are rushing to judgment. I think you have to let it play out a little bit before you make the decision on whether he's guilty or not."

While the Yankees have been successful in retaining key components of the roster that won 94 games and recovered from their dismal start to make the 2007 postseason, Jeter also admitted that the coming Spring Training will promise a new challenge -- one of transition.

"One thing you understand, it is a business," Jeter said. "I realize that I was spoiled in the sense of having the same people around for a time. This is the time to change."

The roster may look similar, as the Yankees kept Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Pettitte, but Jeter has come to terms with the idea of reporting to Tampa, Fla., knowing that a new manager, Joe Girardi, will be setting up shop.

For the first time since 1996, the paths of Jeter and Joe Torre -- now the Dodgers manager -- will not overlap.

"It's going to be weird," Jeter said. "He [Torre] was always a little Hollywood anyway, so he's going to fit right in out there.

"It's going to be a little awkward for me, especially because with the exception of Buck [Showalter] for a couple of weeks, he's the only manager I've ever known. He seems like he's happy and you wish him the best out there."

Aside from the switch of managers and several coaching alterations, the Yankees will largely be intact from the group that was bounced in the first round by the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series.

While sidestepping a question on the Yankees' potential pursuit of Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana -- "Right now, we have a pretty good team," he said -- Jeter praised the decision-making efforts of both Hank and Hal Steinbrenner in their relatively brief tenure at the top of the organization.

The younger Steinbrenners' influence continues to grow as principal owner George Steinbrenner has decided to -- in his famous words -- "let the young elephants into the tent." But Jeter has seen little change in the mission statement.

"One thing with the Steinbrenner family, they want to win, year in and year out," Jeter said. "It looks like Hank and Hal picked up right where the Boss has been. Their No. 1 priority is to win a championship.

"One thing with our organization, there's always change. It seems like especially in years we haven't won, you've seen a lot of influx of players coming in and out. It's good for us to have the opportunity to have most of the guys back and have another shot at it."

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