Red Sox, Yankees also interested

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte met Tuesday with Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane and general manager Gerry Hunsicker, and the Boston Red Sox also may be interested in pursuing the free-agent lefty.

Pettitte, coming off a $35 million, four-year contract with the
New York Yankees, was accompanied to the meeting in Houston by his
agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks.

"We've got a very talented young pitching staff that is lacking
a veteran presence to act as a role model," Hunsicker said in a
telephone interview. "I really believe that is singularly the most
important thing we can do for the club to get up to the next level.
I think he would provide the leadership that we're looking for to
help these young pitchers."

Re-signing Pettitte is the No. 1 priority of the American League
champion Yankees, who have said they expect to negotiate with him
later in the offseason. Pettitte lives in the Houston area.

Randy Hendricks declined comment on the meeting, which lasted
60 to 90 minutes.

"A lot of insight was shared for both sides," Hunsicker said.
"It was basically a meeting to get to know each other a little
better and ultimately decide if this is something both sides want
to think about. We're certainly interested in the possibility of
Andy becoming an Astro and, hopefully, they are, too. Obviously,
the local connection is attractive."

The Red Sox, who have battled the Yankees in pursuit of pitching
since last year, also have contacted the Hendricks brothers about
Pettitte, a person familiar with the talks said on the condition of
anonymity. Boston general manager Theo Epstein declined comment.

Pettitte, 31, led the Yankees in wins last season, going 21-8
with a 4.02 ERA.

He is close to New York pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, and the
Yankees think Stottlemyre's decision last week to return for
another season improved the team's chances of re-signing Pettitte.

Houston, which has never advanced to the World Series, finished
second to the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central this year.

"We're in the first inning," Hunsicker said. "There's a long
way to go. There's a lot of innings to play."