jeudi 1 mars 2012

Pettitte, Rivera an elite teaching duo for Yankees

TAMPA -- Mariano Rivera had completed a 35-pitch bullpen session and walked to where Andy Pettitte had watched baseball’s all-time closer work as if it was the middle of July.

For 10 minutes Wednesday, the pitching cornerstones of the latest Yankees dynasty chatted inside the Steinbrenner Field bullpen as a hot morning sun worked its way through vanishing clouds.

Was Pettitte, a guest instructor, giving Rivera tips? Was Rivera attempting to talk Pettitte into coming out of retirement?

“We were talking about the young pitchers in camp,’’ a sweating Rivera said following the completion of a running program.

On his way to watch Rivera throw, Pettitte said, “There are a lot of young studs here.’’

Once, Rivera and Pettitte were the young studs, and Rivera remembers being around the legends.

“Whitey [Ford], Tommy John and Gator [Ron Guidry], those were the guys,’’ Rivera said of the special instructors on hand during his first camp in 1993 when the Yankees trained in Fort Lauderdale. “I had my [elbow] surgery and I was rehabbing.’’

Rivera (42) is older than Pettitte (39) and though he is an active player, Rivera teaches.

“I have instructed since I came to the big leagues, that’s what I do,’’ Rivera said.

As for the pitching program, Rivera threw a second bullpen session and is nearing the point where he will begin throwing batting practice.

“Friday or Saturday,’’ Rivera said of his next bullpen session. After that he will throw batting practice.

According to manager Joe Girardi, don’t look for Rivera to work an exhibition game for about two weeks.

Rivera historically needs eight innings to be ready for the season. As usual, all of Rivera’s appearances will be at GMS Field, though he will work in one of three games played on the Florida’s east coast at the end of spring training. The Yankees play the Marlins April 1 and 2 in Miami and the Mets in Port St. Lucie on April 3.

Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte

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