Red Sox, Yankees also interested
Pettitte, coming off a $35 million, four-year contract with the New York Yankees, was accompanied to the meeting in Houston by his agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks.
"We've got a very talented young pitching staff that is lacking a veteran presence to act as a role model," Hunsicker said in a telephone interview. "I really believe that is singularly the most important thing we can do for the club to get up to the next level. I think he would provide the leadership that we're looking for to help these young pitchers."
Re-signing Pettitte is the No. 1 priority of the American League champion Yankees, who have said they expect to negotiate with him later in the offseason. Pettitte lives in the Houston area.
Randy Hendricks declined comment on the meeting, which lasted 60 to 90 minutes.
"A lot of insight was shared for both sides," Hunsicker said. "It was basically a meeting to get to know each other a little better and ultimately decide if this is something both sides want to think about. We're certainly interested in the possibility of Andy becoming an Astro and, hopefully, they are, too. Obviously, the local connection is attractive."
The Red Sox, who have battled the Yankees in pursuit of pitching since last year, also have contacted the Hendricks brothers about Pettitte, a person familiar with the talks said on the condition of anonymity. Boston general manager Theo Epstein declined comment.
Pettitte, 31, led the Yankees in wins last season, going 21-8 with a 4.02 ERA.
He is close to New York pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, and the Yankees think Stottlemyre's decision last week to return for another season improved the team's chances of re-signing Pettitte.
Houston, which has never advanced to the World Series, finished second to the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central this year.
"We're in the first inning," Hunsicker said. "There's a long way to go. There's a lot of innings to play."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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