Yanks' Pettitte struggling, not sure about next season

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Andy Pettitte has thought about how special it would be to pitch in the new Yankee Stadium next year -- yet that doesn't mean he will be wearing pinstripes come 2009.

"You definitely think about that," Pettitte said Wednesday, a day before he takes the mound in the series finale against the Oakland Athletics. "I definitely think that would be a joy and honor to do that, but right now I'm just thinking about this year."

As often as the left-hander has felt pain in his throwing elbow over the years, he doesn't think it would be fair to commit now to playing for the Yankees beyond this season. That's something he will consider in the offseason after evaluating his health.

Pettitte, who turns 36 on Sunday, spent three stints on the disabled list in 2004 and wound up having elbow surgery. He still deals with the fear of something happening with his elbow though insists he has been pain-free since rejoining the Yankees last year.

He is 5-5 with a 4.99 ERA heading into Thursday's start and coming off consecutive no-decisions.

It's not as if Pettitte is used to quick starts. He was 4-6 at the All-Star break last year and 7-9 in 2006 but ended up with 15 and 14 wins, respectively, in those seasons.

"The first month of the season I felt I was locked in. I'm not really looking for any answers. I'm just battling my tail off," he said. "There's no doubt I feel great. I feel like I've been throwing great. It's definitely frustrating. I just chalk it up to it's baseball and you're going to have some bad starts. The rest takes care of itself."

The Yankees would like nothing more than to go on a nice run, and Pettitte surely would like to be part of getting the team going.

"You see it every time he's on the mound, but I've seen that for a long time: I could see Andy roll off five wins in a row and then he loses a game and you see that frustration," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "He doesn't hide it well but that's OK. That's Andy Pettitte and that's who he is. I don't worry about it."

Girardi believes Pettitte will get on track because it's just the little things costing him right now -- and for the fact Pettitte has a reputation for being a successful second-half pitcher.

"He's always been a big-game pitcher. He's always seemed to rise to the occasion," Girardi said. "He's always seemed to get better as the year went on. Most of the time he's looked pretty decent. He's had a couple rough outings but I don't expect that to last."

Pettitte doesn't mind that he won't be pitching this weekend against his old team in Houston, where he played for three seasons from 2004-06 between his two stints in the Bronx.

"It really didn't matter," he said. "I knew we were going there and I thought it might line up that I'd pitch there. It would have been nice. Now that I'm not pitching there, I'm extremely excited to have three days to mentally chill and not have to prepare for a start."

Considering his tumultuous winter, Pettitte is happy that he's been receiving warm welcomes wherever the Yankees go, so he hopes that won't change in his home state.

Pettitte, who admitted using human growth hormone to deal with his injured elbow, told congressional lawyers that former teammate Roger Clemens informed him nearly a decade ago he had used HGH and said former trainer Brian McNamee let him know in 2003 or 2004 that Clemens had used steroids.

"Everything has been just fine. Everybody's great to me," Pettitte said. "If it's anything like it's been, it will be great."