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Yankees’ Pettitte Says Heart Wasn’t Committed to 2011 Return

Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees Retiring
Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees speaks during a press conference to announce his retirement on Feb. 4, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photographer: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Andy Pettitte said today that he decided to end his 16-year Major League Baseball career because he didn’t have the hunger for another season with the New York Yankees, even though his pitching arm felt fine.

The 38-year-old Pettitte announced his retirement at a televised news conference at Yankee Stadium. He helped the Yankees win five World Series championships in 13 seasons in the Bronx, and record a record 19 victories in postseason play.

The left-hander was an All-Star in 2010 before a groin injury limited his activity in the second half of the season. He said his arm was ready for 2011 but his heart was not.

“It just didn’t feel right for me anymore,” Pettitte said. “I didn’t have the hunger, the drive that I felt like I needed. I knew that it was different.”

Pettitte said that he was confident that he wouldn’t play this season. He wouldn’t rule out a future return.

“You can never say never,” he said. “I don’t think I would be scared, if I literally went through this whole season and I had hurt in my stomach that I wanted to pitch, to maybe try it again.”

Pettitte pitched for three years in Houston before returning to the Yankees in 2007. He said helping the team win the 2009 World Series in the first year in its new stadium was the most special part of his career.

He said he would most miss the competition and the locker room camaraderie.

Pettitte said he was considering retiring after 2008, but the draw of the new stadium kept him in a Yankees uniform. He put off retirement last season as well, saying he felt he owed it to himself and the team to try to repeat as champions.

Clemens Case

Pettitte said his involvement in the Roger Clemens’ steroid case didn’t affect his decision to retire now. Having acknowledged using human growth hormone in two separate instances, Pettitte is scheduled to be a witness at the July trial of Clemens, his former teammate, on charges of lying to a U.S. congressional panel when he denied using steroids.

Pettitte leaves with a 240-138 record and 3.88 earned run average. A two-time 20-game winner, he often was at his best in the playoffs, with a record six series-clinching victories.

He was 11-3 with a 3.83 ERA last season.

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