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Showalter recalls 'pudgy' Pettitte in 1992

Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte throws during the first

Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte throws during the first inning against the Texas Rangers. (April 14, 1996) Credit: AP

BALTIMORE -- Before Andy Pettitte became famous for his workout regimen, he was just another chubby 20-year-old trying to make an impression on his organization's big-league manager.

But the Pettitte whom Buck Showalter encountered after the lefthander's 1992 season at Class A Greensboro bore little resemblance to the Pettitte who returned to the majors Sunday at age 39.

" Tony Cloninger said, 'Hey, can you go over and say something to this guy? He's got a chance to be pretty special,' " Showalter said before Monday night's game between the Yankees and his Orioles.

"He wanted me to talk to him about his weight. It's hard to imagine, as great shape as Andy's been in his entire career, he was a little pudgy. If we're being nice."

Pettitte dropped that weight and made his major-league debut in 1995, Showalter's fourth and final season as manager of the Yankees. He went 12-9 with a 4.17 ERA and finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.

Showalter called Pettitte "special'' and said he's not surprised to see him back in a Yankees uniform. That doesn't mean he enjoys facing him.

"Andy will be your solidifying force there," Showalter said. "It's what they do and are able to do. God bless them. If I were in their shoes, I'd do the same thing. Andy's been a Yankee most of his career, and if he's going to continue, he should pitch there. I'm not happy about it."

The other members of the Yankees' future Core Four -- Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada -- also made their Yankees debuts under Showalter in 1995. Rivera appeared in 19 games and made 10 starts, compiling a 5-3 record and a 5.51 ERA.

Showalter implied that he thought 2012 would be it for Rivera until the 42-year-old closer's season ended prematurely because of a torn ACL and meniscus.

"There were two bad things that happened when Mo got hurt," Showalter said. "One for the industry in general and the fans, and now the proposition that he's going to pitch again next year. That's not particularly good news, either."

The Orioles (22-13), who last reached the playoffs in 1996, entered play Monday night in first place, 21/2 games ahead of the third-place Yankees (19-15). The home attendance for Baltimore's 8-7 loss to the Rays on Sunday was 32,862, the highest at Camden Yards since Opening Day.

"There's a vibe," Showalter said. "I know our guys don't take it for granted. A lot of guys have been here when that vibe wasn't in the ballpark necessarily and you had to be a self-starter.

"That's one thing I always said when I was in New York that you didn't have to worry about. There was always that atmosphere as soon as you walked out of the dugout. You may have been in Boston [for] 17 innings, but you knew getting back to your home, there was going to be something that's uplifting. We've had some of those days here already."


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