Andy Pettitte will spend significant time with Yankees this season

TAMPA -- Late on Tuesday morning at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Andy Pettitte, Ron Guidry and CC Sabathia stood near the pitchers’ mound. In front of the first base dugout, Gerrit Cole leaned on a railing and took it all in. Gazing out at the trio of Yankee legends, he made a quiet comment about how much it meant to see them.

An hour or so later, Aaron Judge sat at a podium for his introductory remarks to the public and emphasized how glad he was to have hitting coaches in James Rowson, Pat Roessler and Casey Dykes with a lifetime of lived experience in the game.

In Pettitte, the Yankees will have both qualities this year: A franchise icon, and a coach who knows what it’s like to pitch in the biggest situations.

Manager Aaron Boone made a brief mention during his post-workout news conference that Pettitte, hired last July as an advisor, would work with the Yankees more this year.

Afterward, I followed up to ask if Pettitte would be around even more than last season.

“Oh, yeah,” Boone said. “Probably less the first month and a half, but I would expect [he will be present for] maybe 40-to-60-plus games.”

While there isn’t an exact schedule for how often and when Pettitte will don the uniform and work with pitchers, Boone’s estimate made clear that his presence will be significant.

This is not in any way a threat to pitching coach Matt Blake’s standing with the organization. Blake is highly respected in the clubhouse and front office. And while Pettitte will be in uniform before games, he is not part of the coaching staff per se (and he said last summer that he is not interested in working as a full-time pitching coach).

“He plays really well in the sandbox, for lack of a better term,” Boone said of the way Pettitte relates to Blake and assistant pitching coach Desi Druschel.

“He has the perfect resume,” Boone says. “He knows pitching. He’s a Yankee legend, and he has really a lot to offer -- not just to pitchers but to everyone. And he and I have developed a close relationship.”

Pettitte’s increased presence comes at a time when Yankee players have been open about a desire to work with coaches steeped in field experience, whether as players or longtime coaches.

“I’m excited for a lot of the changes … some of the guys we brought back as hitting coaches,” Judge said. “Pat Roessler. We brought Casey Dykes back. Guys who have been in our organization for years, and keeping them here has been great. James Rowson understands the game and understands what it takes to play.”

I asked Boone if players were hungry to work with coaches with long resumes in the game. He nodded.

“Baseball guys,” he said. “Lifers. Yeah.”