Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pettitte Still Helping out Sabathia

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pettitte Still Helping out Sabathia

Article excerpt

TAMPA, Fla. - Though it wasn't planned, Andy Pettitte's arrival Tuesday at Yankees camp happily coincided with CC Sabathia's first 2017 Grapefruit League start.

"What timing," Pettitte said at Steinbrenner Field. "I'm excited about that."

After tossing two scoreless innings, Sabathia admitted to being "a little nervous" against the Tampa Bay Rays. "I told Joe (Girardi) I wasn't expecting that. It just felt good to get back out there."

Close teammates during four Yankees years, Sabathia and Pettitte have kept their conversations going long after Pettitte's final season. And much of their recent pitching discussions has centered around Sabathia's transition from power to finesse.

"When you have the stuff that he had ... it was a big adjustment for him to almost learn how to pitch again," Pettitte said. "You just start figuring out what pitches guys can't handle."

Sabathia did a better job of that in 2016, coming off two rough seasons and battling with an arthritic right knee.

With a more stable knee brace and a better feel for the cutter - Pettitte's signature pitch - Sabathia made 30 starts and pitched to a 3.91 ERA.

The cutter has been in Sabathia's arsenal for only 21/2 years. "Being able to throw it consistently is the key, and I feel like I'm getting closer to that," Sabathia said after yielding two hits - singles by Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria - and a walk on Tuesday.

Sabathia left the bases loaded in the first and pitched a perfect second inning, registering two strikeouts in a 34-pitch outing.

"Something I can build on for sure," Sabathia said of Tuesday's final inning, when he had more action on the slider, cutter and change-up and kept the ball down. And he kept the lines of communication open with Pettitte.

"I've been talking to him all day," Sabathia said. "Obviously, my style of pitching now is close to where his was at the end of his career. …

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