Muscle Sport Magazine

Pettitte Losing Focus as Clemens Trial Looms

Inconsistency Plagues Pitcher as Yanks Need Ace

At the start of the 2008 baseball season, Andy Pettitte seemed to be pitching with his mind elsewhere. Although his numbers weren’t all bad, the inconsistency that was rarely a part of his game seemed to be the only thing consistent during April and May and the beginning of June. One could hardly blame him, with the volatile offseason filled with the George Mitchell investigation and testimony for the congressional hearings starring Roger Clemens.

That all seemed to be past him as Pettitte won four straight decisions to improve to 9-5. Then word leaked out that he may have to testify in the federal defamation lawsuit that Clemens filed against both hurlers’ former trainer Brian McNamee. The following day, Pettitte got pounded by the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

While all of that may just be a coincidence, one has to remember the fragile psyche that Pettitte has and the fact that he is – when Clemens is part of the equation – a follower and not a leader. The Rocket is the bad boy to Pettitte’s altar boy, and it was obvious during this whole ordeal that the religious lefthander was pained to be speaking so brutally frank about his own human growth hormone use and what he knew of his close friend’s alleged indulgence into performance-enhancing drugs.

The Bronx Bombers need Pettitte to be the ace of the rotation in the second half of the season. They are currently in third place in the American League East, 9.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and 4.5 back of Boston. In the Wild Card race, the Yanks are five back, chasing three teams.

Since number-one starter Chien-Ming Wang went on the disabled list, the pressure on veterans Pettitte and Mike Mussina grew even larger to step up and lead the way in the wake of the two youngster’s (Ian Kennedy and Phillip Hughes) disastrous seasons.

A 4.22 ERA in today’s AL is not anything to hang your head about, but if Pettitte expects to lead this team into the postseason, he will have to repeat the effective part of June and forget about his off-the-field issues. Clemens is finished and cannot help him in any way, shape or form at this stage of their lives, and the wider distance that Pettitte puts between them will only be a boost to his game.

Although Pettitte was obviously downplaying his HGH use, at least he made an attempt to put the entire issue past him. When he made his public apology statement following the release of the Mitchell Report, he said that he only used HGH on two occasions. Then during his testimony to investigators before the February Congress circus, he said that it was three times. Anyone who has even the slightest of knowledge of PEDs knows that these drugs are used in cycles and one or two administrations will not be effective. Because McNamee could only attest to the few incidents, it was easy for Pettitte to keep it at that number, or somewhere reasonably close to it.

Because Clemens chose to not only deny his use of PEDs but go to extremes in doing so, he has switched the burden of proof onto himself. That has dragged many others into the fray, including Pettitte, who probably wished that he had chosen his friends more carefully.

Photo credit: New York Sportscene magazine

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