Andy Pettitte will announce his retirement on Friday, finally answering a question that has hovered over the Yankees during the offseason. The Yankees had hoped that Pettitte would return in 2011 to stabilize their starting rotation, but Pettitte has apparently decided to end his 16-year career so that he could spend more time with his family.
Pettitte traveled to Yankee Stadium on Thursday to meet with Yankee executives, which is his way of offering an official good-bye. The Yankees had known for more than 24 hours that Pettitte was about to retire. While there was a remote chance that Pettitte could have changed his mind before the meeting, team officials didn’t think that would happen and it didn’t. The press conference will be at 10:30 a.m. and will be televised by the YES Network.
As the Yankees waited to hear what Pettitte would do, they continually hoped and even believed that he would eventually pitch another season. Since Pettitte had flirted with retirement before, and since he is only 38 years old, the Yankees were cautiously optimistic that he would amble back to the mound at a time when they really need him. Instead, Pettitte elected to amble away.
Once the Yankees failed to sign Cliff Lee, the need for Pettitte intensified. If Pettitte had returned, the Yankees would have been able to exhale as they studied their rotation because he would have joined CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett as the top four starters. But without Pettitte, the Yankees have the less reliable options of Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon competing for the final two spots.
As genial as Pettitte was, he was as intense a competitor as the Yankees have had across the last 20 years. With his glove perched in front of his stubble-haired face, Pettitte would peek over it to get a sign, almost seeming robotic. When Pettitte didn’t make the pitch he wanted, he would scold himself. Often. There was rarely an inning in which Pettitte didn’t talk to himself. He was a pitching perfectionist.
The former 22nd round draft pick finishes his career with a 240-138 record and a 3.88 earned run average, which includes a 203-112 mark and a 3.98 ERA. in his 13 seasons with the Yankees. Pettitte compiled more postseason wins than any pitcher in history, going 19-10 with a 3.83 in 42 games. He was 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA last season, but missed two months with a strained left groin.
During an interview with Pettitte last March in Tampa, I came away feeling that he would probably retire after 2010. Pettitte has always been eager to talk about his wife and four children, but this time it was different. The season hadn’t even begun and Pettitte was lamenting the moments he would miss by being in New York while his family was in Deer Park, Texas.
“I can’t just keep on playing,” Pettitte said at the time. “I need to get back home.”
It took Pettitte a bit longer to make it official, but he is, indeed, going back home. For the Yankees and the fans that will miss Pettitte, that’s depressing news.
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