Mariano Rivera is backing Andy Pettitte.

After finalizing his three-year, $45 million contract with the New York Yankees yesterday, the closer said he was impressed with Pettitte for admitting that he used human growth hormone after his name was included in the report by former Sen. George Mitchell.

"The thing that I admire is that he came out and said he did it," Rivera said. Pettitte said he used the hormone while he was on the disabled during the 2002 season.

Rivera was 3-4 with 30 saves in 34 chances and a 3.15 ERA in 2007.

Meanwhile, the Yankees announced yesterday that they would raise ticket prices next season, in part to prepare for a move to a new ballpark across the street in 2009.

The most expensive box seats closest to the field will go from $150 in 2007 to $250 next year as part of full season-ticket plans. Those seats are all sold out.

The last regular-season series in Yankee Stadium will be against Baltimore on Sept. 19-21.

Dodgers. A few days after admitting he used human growth hormone, backup catcher Gary Bennett signed a one-year free-agent contract with Los Angeles.

He was chosen by the Phillies in the 11th round of the 1990 amateur draft and played in limited action for them from 1995 until 2001.

Bennett was among 85 players implicated last week in the Mitchell report. He later told the Washington Post: "As far as the report is concerned to me, it's accurate."

Bennett, 35, played in 59 games for St. Louis last season, batting .252 with two home runs and 17 RBIs. The Dodgers will be his eighth major-league team.

Indians. Pitcher Paul Byrd met with baseball officials in New York to discuss his use of human growth hormone.

It was uncertain whether the former Phillie would face discipline from the commissioner's office or when a potential punishment might be handed down.

Before Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in Boston, Byrd acknowledged taking the hormone after the San Francisco Chronicle reported that he spent nearly $25,000 on the banned drug and syringes from 2002 to '05. His name was included last week in the Mitchell report.

Braves. Javy Lopez is trying a comeback with his former team, agreeing to a minor-league contract with Atlanta.

The catcher was cut by Colorado in spring training last year. He played for the Braves from 1992 to 2003 and was named to three all-star teams.

Atlanta invited Lopez, 37, to spring training, where he will compete for a backup job behind Brian McCann. Lopez is a career .287 hitter with 260 home runs and 864 RBIs.

Noteworthy. Former major-league infielder Fernando Viña, now an ESPN baseball analyst, admitted using human growth hormone in 2003 when he was with St. Louis as he attempted to heal from injuries. Viña made the admission in an interview with his network.

He was named last week in the Mitchell report.

Viña was an all-star second baseman with Milwaukee in 1998. He also played for Seattle, the New York Mets and Detroit during a 12-year career that ended in 2004.