TAMPA -- The New York Yankees spent Tuesday afternoon studying an important piece of their past and wondering if it could be part of their present.
Then they spent Tuesday night watching a piece of their present and wondered how it would fit into the future.
Old met new at George M. Steinbrenner Field, where 23-year-old Michael Piñeda started against the Pittsburgh Pirates hours after Andy Pettitte, who turns 40 in June, threw his first bullpen session since officially ending his retirement and signing a minor-league contract with the Yankees.
Pettitte is a crafty lefty born in Louisiana, the owner of 240 big-league victories, not including a record 19 in the postseason, and a handful of World Series rings.
A native of the Dominican Republic who signed with the Seattle Mariners when he was 16, Piñeda has nine wins to his credit and is readying for his second full season in the majors.
Yet the on-paper polar opposites could find themselves in the same rotation sometime this summer. While Piñeda is still a work in progress, the Yankees dealt away two of their prized prospects, pitcher Hector Noesi and catcher/designated hitter Jesus Montero, to Seattle in exchange for his services.
Pettitte will net $2.5 million if he makes the team, considered a bargain if he can be a fraction of what he was during his two separate stints in the Bronx, when he won 203 games and made two All-Star teams in 13 seasons.
The elder-statesman-in-waiting of the Yankees' staff looked fit and trim while addressing the media hours after he tossed a 50-pitch, 15-minute bullpen under the watchful eye of guys such as pitching coach Larry Rothschild and catcher Russell Martin.
Even Pettitte, whose last appearance came during Game 3 of the 2010 American League Championship Series against Texas, was pleasantly surprised with the way he threw.
"I felt good," he said. "I really feel like I'm progressing. My location (Tuesday) was better than it has been in the other bullpens I've thrown, so I really felt good about it."
During his year away from the game, Pettitte wasn't parked in front of a television set and wishing he was a part of the Yankees' run toward another American League East crown. He was at peace with his decision to walk away.
Then he heard a December interview given by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who said he thought Pettitte could still pitch effectively.
"I think that was probably the first time I started thinking about it," Pettitte said. "Wow -- these guys think that I could be as good as I was."
Yet Cashman made that observation prior to the Yankees' acquiring Piñeda and free agent Hiroki Kuroda. Established CC Sabathia is guaranteed a spot in the rotation. But Pettitte's return means he, Piñeda, Kuroda, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes will be shooting for the final four spots.
Much has been made this spring of Piñeda's lack of velocity after he hovered around the low 90s in his first three starts. But he hit 94 mph on the radar gun Tuesday, when he fanned five of the last six batters he faced and threw 47 of 72 pitches for strikes.
The emergence of Pettitte didn't seem to ruffle Piñeda, even if it makes the Yankees' rotation more crowded than it was before.
"I want to learn from him. He was a pretty good pitcher, and I want to talk to him," Piñeda said. "I have no control over the situation. ... It's good to compete in the spring."
And the Yankees agree, as long as their present and future join forces effectively come the summer.