Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte and his son Luke, 5, hang...

Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte and his son Luke, 5, hang out warm up during the American League All-Star team's workout before baseball's All-Star home run derby, Monday. (July 12, 2010) Credit: AP

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Nine years have passed since Andy Pettitte pitched in an All-Star Game. Alex Rodriguez's wait lasted only two years. It just feels like nine.

"Being here just gives me a lot of perspective," A-Rod said Monday. "How different I am as a person and teammate from 500 home runs to 600 home runs. I find the perspective pretty interesting."

You're just as likely to bump into a Yankee as you are a Disney character in this tourist haven. Yankees manager Joe Girardi leads the AL team, and his coaches have joined him. On Sunday night, the Yankees chartered a flight from Seattle that contained about 40 people, from Girardi to coaches to the players and their families, along with the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki.

First-timers Phil Hughes and Nick Swisher beamed with excitement, as did second-timer Robinson Cano, who will make his debut Tuesday because he missed the 2006 game with an injury. Derek Jeter, an 11th-time selection, stands as a fixture, not having missed one of these since 2005. CC Sabathia, after pitching Sunday, is just hanging out. Mariano Rivera isn't here.

A-Rod, 34, and Pettitte, 38, carried the sentiments of gratitude. Of knowing what it is to have something - status - lose it and regain it.

Pettitte had the longer journey, but also a less controversial one. He has been one of baseball's most reliable starting pitchers, yet he tends to do his best work in the second half. Hence the lack of All-Star recognition. This year, he pitched in the first half as if it were the second half, going 11-2 with a 2.70 ERA.

"It's definitely special, at my age now, to be able to put together a good first half for us. To be consistent," Pettitte said. "That's what I'm most proud of, to be consistent for our team. Not that I thought I wouldn't, but that's what you want to do. Give us a chance to win every night that I take the mound.

"You know that you've got a great team behind you. You know that you've got Mariano Rivera closing for you. So if you could stay consistent, go out there and just do my job, keep us in the game, you're going to help us win."

When Rodriguez played for the host Yankees in the 2008 Midsummer Classic, he was a) in the middle of an ugly divorce and b) involved with Madonna, and he didn't stick around (in fact, he left the park) for the entirety of the memorable 15-inning contest.

So much has changed for A-Rod since then. He confessed to using illegal performance-enhancing drugs in February 2009; by the way, Pettitte did so in December 2007. Rodriguez had major hip surgery in March 2009 that left him wondering whether he could ever be an elite player again.

Missing the first month-plus of '09 left A-Rod out of the All-Star conversation, but he finished the season by performing superbly in the postseason and leading the Yankees to his first World Series title.

His media table drew steady, manageable traffic Monday, a contrast from the days when he entertained a free-for-all and seemed to revel in it. He has preached a team-first mentality since he returned to uniform in May 2009, and he has stuck to that script.

"It was a very tough time for me last year, the way it started," Rodriguez said. "Probably the low point of my career. From that press conference in spring training, when I spoke to you in Baltimore, I said some things that I needed to address. I needed to simplify things, focus on my game. I think, as a result, I enjoyed the game a lot more.

"I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the game before, but certainly, I never enjoyed the game like I had last year and have this year."

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