TAMPA — This time last season, pitcher Andy Pettitte was the Yankees star emotionally — and remorsefully — addressing the media about his use of a performance-enhancing substance.
Pettitte remembers the grief and pain that comes with such information being public. And knowing what Alex Rodriguez will likely have to deal with, Pettitte said the public criticism could affect the All-Star third baseman this season.
Pettitte, who spoke Friday at the Yankees spring training complex, said he has reached out to Rodriguez in text messages, letting "him know I was praying for him. … I was hoping he'd make the right decisions, moving forward. It would be less grief for him.
"Obviously, he's going to get a lot of criticism, and it could affect him," Pettitte said. "The player he is, the magnitude. We're here in New York, where players draw an awful, awful lot of attention."
In his news conference before last season, Pettitte was more candid with details of his use of human growth hormone than Rodriguez was in his ESPN interview Monday in which he discussed testing positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2003. Pettitte said such honesty could help a lot.
"For me, it was easy and it was the truth," he said. "I can't speak for anybody else. It was just easy for me to come out and tell y'all what I did and when I did it exactly. I had to get it off my conscience."
Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera attended Pettitte's news conference last season, and some teammates may do the same for Rodriguez. On Friday, Pettitte, as well as new Yankees A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia, showed support.
"He's a teammate, and I love him," Pettitte said. "I'm going to back him and I'm going to pull for him. It has no effect at all the way I look at him. He made a mistake."