Pettitte breezes in second minor-league start

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte holds his

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte holds his glove to his face as he sizes up a hitter in the sixth inning of the Yankees 8-3 victory over the New York Mets in spring training. (April 4, 2012) (Credit: AP )

TAMPA, Fla. -- Statistically, the four innings Andy Pettitte threw Sunday at the Class A level on a warm afternoon weren't quite perfect.

They just felt that way to the 39-year-old lefthander, who has yet to even slip on a rung in his climb back to the big leagues.

"It was another good step," said Pettitte, who allowed two hits in four scoreless innings against the Phillies' Class A Clearwater team. "I can tell that I'm getting to where I need to be."

In his second minor-league start in six days, Pettitte threw 47 pitches -- 31 for strikes -- before a crowd of 1,721 at Steinbrenner Field.

The two hits he allowed came with one out in the fourth against Clearwater's No. 2 and 3 batters after Pettitte had retired 10 in a row.

He struck out three and allowed only two hitters to work a full count.

"It was perfect again," said Pettitte, who tossed three scoreless innings against the same club last Monday. "I'm progressing, I think, just perfect. I get around 40 pitches, I started getting tired. Just another good day."

Tampa manager Luis Sojo said his old teammate's repertoire Sunday included breaking pitches, cutters and changeups. The only apparent downside was that Pettitte got little work from the stretch. He needed only 14 total pitches to get through the middle two innings.

"Hasn't changed a bit. Same guy," said Sojo, who played parts of seven seasons with Pettitte with the Yankees. "For a guy who hasn't pitched in a year, he was pretty impressive. He just keeps throwing strikes."

Pettitte said he'll pitch Friday at an undetermined level and hopes to increase his pitch count to 65 or 70. He added he'll "definitely" make starts at Double-A before returning to the majors.

"I need to get to where . . . I'll feel comfortable getting into an inning where I may have to throw 30 pitches in an inning, because that's going to happen," he said. "I need to get my body ready, and we're going to take the time we need to get there."

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