- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Pettitte faced three New York Mets batters in the sixth inning of the Yankees' final spring game, allowing a leadoff single to Cory Vaughn, and retiring the next two hitters on an infield pop fly and a groundout. Vaughn was thrown out trying to steal second.
"I thought he was all right. It was good to see him get on the hill," manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees' 8-3 win. "What I thought was pretty special to watch was how many of our guys stayed around to see him pitch. Usually when guys come out, they shower, ice and they go home. You had a lot of guys stay a long time today."
Pettitte's fastball was clocked at 86 mph and his curveball was in the mid-70s, but he was around the plate and the only hit he gave up was a bouncing ball that eluded the reach of Class A first baseman Kyle Roller.
"I felt good. It was good to be able to get out there and get the inning in, especially in a big league game," Pettitte said. "It's just another good step forward."
Pettitte, who will turn 40 in June, had not pitched since Game 3 of the 2010 American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers, in which he took the loss in an 8-0 Rangers victory. Pettitte allowed two runs in seven innings and retired after the conclusion of the season four days later.
But after making a brief appearance in Yankees camp as a guest instructor in late February, Pettitte announced he would attempt a comeback in March and rejoined the team March 20. He had thrown a couple of bullpen sessions and two simulated games, the most recent Saturday, before the team decided to give him an inning of work in a real game situation before the team begins the regular season.
"Definitely it felt a little weird, there's no doubt about it, but once I was out there, it was just like I never left," Pettitte said.
Pettitte, who received a standing ovation from the Steinbrenner Field crowd upon emerging from the dugout, is not expected to rejoin the team before May 1.
"I feel like the stuff is there. I just need to build up the stamina," Pettitte said of his and the team's plans for his return. "There's nothing I really feel like I need to work on. Everything is proceeding very smoothly right now."
A member of five Yankees world championship teams, Pettitte's career record is 240-138 and his career ERA 3.88. He also has won more postseason games (19) than any other pitcher in major league history.
10hJesse Rogers and Jerry Crasnick
10hTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com