Pettitte eager to make Grapefruit debut

Pettitte eager to make Grapefruit debut

TAMPA, Fla. -- The most enjoyable moments of Andy Pettitte's season can be measured by 60 feet and six inches.

The other parts -- hearing of his friend Roger Clemens' ordeal, bracing for the uncertainty of future legal action, retaining attorneys to keep tabs on Capitol Hill -- have been completely foreign and utterly joyless.

But the Yankees left-hander will have a good day on Sunday, when he'll only be asked to handle a baseball and follow the same routine that has allowed him to win 201 games in the big leagues.

Pettitte's Spring Training debut against the Phillies at Legends Field will officially put an end to what he has repeatedly called "a bad offseason," even though not all of the problems can be wiped away by a simple game.

"Everything else was such an [abnormal] lifestyle for me," Pettitte said recently. "This is extremely good to be [pitching], no doubt. Everybody's just made me feel so comfortable -- the team, the organization, the guys. It's been great to be back.

"Especially for me, when you're a pitcher stepping on the mound, it's so different. Everything goes away. I'm just kind of thinking about how you're going to get everyone out this season and trying to get your stuff ready."

Pettitte's offseason was marred by his inclusion in the Mitchell Report, which prompted him to admit to using human growth hormone twice during the 2002 season. Later, when summoned to testify for a Congressional committee investigating Clemens' claims against the Report, Pettitte also admitted to a third use of growth hormone in 2004.

Pettitte's testimony for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform helped to implicate Clemens before Congress, stating that the right-hander told Pettitte of his own use of HGH in either 1999 or 2000 in a conversation at Clemens' gymnasium in Memorial, Texas.

Clemens has repeatedly and vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs, saying under oath that Pettitte "misremembered" the conversation. Clemens' denials have prompted an investigation to determine if he perjured himself before Congress.

Pettitte's winter was also disrupted when his 13-year-old son, Josh, was badly injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident in December, requiring about 50 stitches in his head.

All that considered, standing in the sunshine on a pitchers mound in Tampa -- where Pettitte has been warmly received all spring -- seems like quite the preferable place to be.

"Everybody's acting like nothing's happened, to tell you the truth," Pettitte said. "Everything's good."

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