The Yankees left-hander allowed one run on two hits over three innings in his first start of the season on Monday, striking out two without issuing a walk. That was not enough to put the Class A Advanced Tampa Yankees over the top, though, as they fell to the Clearwater Threshers, 9-6.
Pitching in his first game since he tossed a scoreless inning of relief in Spring Training on Wednesday, Pettitte threw 26 of his 32 pitches for strikes.
"I just know this is a process -- it's going to take a little bit of time," Pettitte told MLB.com. "Tonight was another good step. My legs felt really good under me. It's another good step in the right direction."
Pettitte tossed a perfect first inning before surrendering a leadoff double to Brandon Tripp in the second. He fanned the next batter, Jim Murphy, but then unleashed a wild pitch that allowed Tripp to move to third. Jeremy Barnes followed with a sacrifice fly to plate the Threshers' only run against Pettitte, while Cameron Rupp grounded out to end the frame.
In the third, Pettitte once more yielded a leadoff double -- this time to Miguel Alvarez after the ball took an odd bounce off third base -- but did not allow another baserunner in the inning. He retired Carlos Alonso on a ground out, struck out Albert Cartwright and then induced a fly out by Edgar Duran to end his day.
"This was a short sample, a short outing, and I feel like maybe I didn't get a chance to throw some of the pitches that I would like to have thrown and work on some of the sequences that I would have liked, because I was getting guys out early in counts," Pettitte said.
"But all in all, I feel real comfortable with everything, so it was another good step."
A five-time World Series champion during his 16-year career, Pettitte retired from baseball following the 2010 season but surprisingly signed with the Yankees on March 16 this year. Because the 39-year-old missed a month of Spring Training, he will likely continue to work in the Minors until May as he builds up his stamina.
Pettitte said that he has had a heavy workload since coming out of retirement, so he will probably take it slow for a couple of days before fully getting back into gear. His next scheduled start is on Sunday.
"I haven't had a break since I've been down here," Pettitte told MLB.com. "I've been throwing a lot to get ready for this. I've been throwing every other day since I've been down here."
Neil Medchill led the Tampa offense by going 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored. Meanwhile, the Threshers were carried by Barnes and Rupp, both of whom drove in four runs.