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Pettitte works three strong innings
Yankees left-hander allows one run on two hits, fans two
04/09/2012 10:59 PM ET
Andy Pettitte has racked up 240 wins during his Major League career.
Andy Pettitte has racked up 240 wins during his Major League career. (Henny Ray Abrams)
So far, so good for Andy Pettitte on the comeback trail.

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.

David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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