Showalter could always rely on Pettitte
Lefty's former manager got glimpse of what he would become
BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter remembers the first time he saw Andy Pettitte as a 20-year-old prospect in the instructional league. Pitching coach Tony Cloninger had asked Showalter if he would take a look at the young lefty, a 22nd-round pick who had played with Class A Greensboro the previous season.
There were certain things that stood out: Pettitte's respect for the game, his tunnel-vision focus and that face, a "good baseball face" that would become synonymous with his domineering stare from over his glove.
"But it didn't take great advanced scouting to know Andy was going to be as good as he was capable of being," Showalter said in a phone interview Friday from Florida as he reflected on Pettitte's 16-year career, which started under his tenure as Yankees manager.
Currently the Orioles' manager, Showalter -- who along with Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, is being honored by his former school, Chipola College, with a dinner on Friday and jersey retiring ceremony Saturday -- started his career with the Yankees.
Showalter managed four seasons in the Bronx, and he had Pettitte on the Major League club in 1995, along with fellow newcomers Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
"Andy took the heart and responsibility he had of pitching every fifth day for the Yankees very seriously," Showalter said of Pettitte, who retires as the all-time leader in postseason wins (19), starts (42) and innings pitched (263). Pettitte's 240 career wins are the 13th most by a lefty in Major League history.
"I don't think you can have a greater compliment than that, him being someone that has always been able to be relied on," said Showalter.
Pettitte went 12-9 with a 4.17 ERA in 31 games (26 starts) during his rookie campaign in 1995. He followed that up with a career-high 21 wins and an All-Star selection the following season.
Now that Showalter is Baltimore's manager, Pettitte's retirement is more bittersweet. The 38-year-old Pettitte historically dominated the Orioles, going 27-6 with a 3.52 ERA in 42 games (40 starts). It's his most career wins against any club, 16 of which came at Camden Yards.
"From a Baltimore Orioles standpoint, I'm glad that Andy won't be a thorn for a lot of people in the American League next year," Showalter said. "But you never know, he might turn around and come back midseason.
"I think he's been in some discomfort and pain with his [left] elbow the last couple of years that he's fought his way through. I know he's very aware of his needs as a father and a husband, and about their needs as a family."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.