But no matter how many times Pettitte peered over his glove five days ago and tried to fool himself that he was pitching to the ghost of Jimmy Rollins, for example, it didn't compare to actually getting to face the real deal.
Pettitte made his spring debut on Wednesday at Bright House Field, beginning 2010 just as he'd finished '09 -- with a start against the Phillies. The lefty hurled four innings of two-run, five-hit ball in the Yankees' 6-2 loss.
"When a real hitter steps in there with another team, your adrenaline kicks up a little bit," Pettitte said. "Even though I felt like I threw with great intensity in the bullpen session, my last so-called outing [on Friday], you just can't manufacture the Phillies batters standing in the batter's box -- especially with that lineup that you've got to face over there."
Coming 133 days after he logged the victory in the clinching game of the World Series, the 37-year-old Pettitte allowed a first-inning run to the Phillies, as Rollins doubled and scored on Ryan Howard's single up the middle.
"It jammed him," Pettitte said. "I threw a two-seamer in there that was just up a little bit. It was a pretty good pitch, right where I wanted it. I might have wanted it to run a little bit more, but he kept his hands on it and just shot me back up the middle. It wasn't a terrible pitch."
Actually, he didn't make many terrible pitches. Carlos Ruiz lifted a second-inning sacrifice fly that brought home former Yankee Cody Ransom, but otherwise Pettitte was sharp, walking one and striking out four.
"I thought his stuff was really good today, especially that it's the first time he's seen live hitters," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Pettitte was even happy with a fourth-inning walk to Ruiz, pointing out that it came on a 3-2 curveball.
"I'm just trying to put myself in a situation where if I need to make that pitch, I can start working on stuff," Pettitte said. "All in all, it was just good.
"They've just got a real good team. This was a real good challenge for me today, mentally and everything, just to start trying to make pitches against that lineup."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.