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Yanks to support embattled Pettitte
By Eduardo A. Encina, Times Staff Writer
Published February 15, 2008
Andy Pettitte will be facing more pressure this season because of his testimony admitting use of HGH. "This is a different animal than anything he's had to deal with before," said Yankees teammate Mike Mussina.
TAMPA - Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina remembers how teammate Jason Giambi was chastised publicly three years ago when he became one of the first named in the steroids scandal - the ridicule he faced in every visiting ballpark, the scrutiny every one of his at-bats held and the question mark stamped on his past accomplishments.
As baseball's performance-enhancing era rocks the Yankees roster again - this time with Andy Pettitte - Mussina said his fellow pitcher will face a trying season as he attempts to repair his reputation.
"It's going to be everywhere," Mussina told reporters Thursday at Legends Field. "It's going to be hard. It's going to be difficult. Hopefully he can find a way to play through it and perform well."
Pettitte's admission that he used human growth hormone in 2002 and 2004 drew praise from Congress - House Oversight and Government Reform committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said Pettitte's "consistency makes him a role model on and off the field" - but Mussina said this season will offer an unrivaled challenge for the 35-year-old left-hander.
"This is a different animal than anything he's had to deal with before," he said. "He's been successful his whole career; this is just a different situation. Do I think he can deal with it? Yeah, I think he can deal with it, but until you're actually put in the situation and have to deal with it you really don't know."
Yankees pitchers and catchers reported Thursday for physicals - the first workout is scheduled for 10:30 this morning - but Pettitte was absent, given until Monday to report. He gave depositions to Congress last week, but he did not join former teammate Roger Clemens, who continued to deny steroid use, in Wednesday's Capitol Hill testimony. Pettitte also said in an affidavit that Clemens told him nearly 10 years ago he had used HGH, a conversation Clemens said Pettitte "misremembered."
Pitcher Phil Hughes, who said learning of Pettitte's HGH use was "a shocker," also said Pettitte will have a tough time, saying, "It's hard enough to play this game when you're focused on playing it."
"With his personality, it just doesn't seem like something he'd do," Hughes said. "He's still the same guy I know. He's still a good person."
Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain said he will welcome Pettitte with open arms.
"He's going to come in and do what's gotten him to this point, and that's perform on the field," he said. "When he gets between the lines there's nothing that's going to stop him. And I'm looking forward to giving him a hug and saying, 'Welcome back.'"