The Yankees had another surprise guest instructor show up this week. Any guesses? I’ll spoil it, it was Andy Pettitte. Yes the recently retired Pettitte showed up in camp Monday to do some work with the pitching staff this week. He was flagged by the media almost instantly and asked one question. Was this going to lead to a comeback? Pettitte quickly shot it down, and said he’s not coming back, not a chance. He came to Tampa with an agenda, to help the young pitchers and a few old friends.
The 41-year-old Pettitte worked out Wednesday with the pitching staff, and threw some live batting practice. But he made some special workout time for CC Sabathia. Pettitte had an interesting take about Sabathia’s diminished velocity. It wasn’t negative, but instead he said some very positive things about the Yankees workhorse ace. “CC’s got everything it takes to be successful” said Pettitte. He went on to say “Look, when your velocity’s not quite there, you have to rely a little bit more on movement and command and to be able to change speeds and do different things pitching, and he can do all those things.” “He is a strike thrower. Sometimes you have to have a little bit more quality when you don’t have quite the velocity. If the velocity is not there, you just have to have some movement on it.”
After the workout he talked with CC and reiterated the fact that he can have a bounce back year. “I think he is doing good, mentally, talking to him. He knows exactly what he needs to do.” These are all things we already know, it’s even something Sabathia is well aware of. But hearing it from a longtime friend and ex-teammate, I think it was some well needed positive reinforcement that CC gladly absorbed.
After Saturdays game, in which CC pitched a few innings, he had this to say about his 88 mph fastball. “My fastball is what it is, If it gets better, it will. If not, it won’t. I can pitch. I’m fine. As long as I am healthy, I’ll be good.”
As Pettitte entered the latter part of his career, he became a very effective location pitcher. There’s also a few other pitchers over the years that didn’t rely on throwing gas, one pitcher that comes to mind is Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. Maddux was the ultimate location and change of speed pitcher. He won the Cy Young Award in four consecutive years during the early nineties, and was one of greatest pitchers of the last 25 years. Now I’m not comparing CC to Maddux just yet, but more as a point of reference.
So there’s no reason to believe that Sabathia can’t be successful this year and going forward. He just has to work hard on his craft this spring, and be patient. The media were just quick to jump on CC after his outing on Saturday. It was his first start of a very long spring, arm strength isn’t there yet, and that goes for most pitchers this early on in camp. I have faith in Carsten Charles Sabathia, Andy Pettitte does, and so should all the Yankee fans out there.
On a side note, Reggie Jackson and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez are also in camp this week as special guest instructors.