Pettitte Ends Retirement With 1-Year Deal in Yankees’ Minors

Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees
Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees. Photographer: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Former All-Star pitcher Andy Pettitte signed a minor-league contract to return to the New York Yankees, ending his one-season retirement.

The one-year deal includes an invitation to the Major League Baseball team’s spring training camp, the Yankees said in a statement. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. The deal is worth $2.5 million, according to the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network.

“My desire to work is back,” Pettitte said on a conference call yesterday. “The commitment level wasn’t there last year. I don’t know if it was because I had a year off, just my desire to work was back. This is where I’m at right now.”

Pettitte, 39, said in February 2011 that he decided to end his 16-year major league career because he didn’t want to play another season although he was healthy.

“When people asked me if I would ever come back, I said I’d probably be too embarrassed to come back because I’m retired,” Pettitte said. “That’s really where I’ve been over the last three or four days, I am embarrassed I’m coming back. But then I’m like, ‘What can I do?’ Things have changed. I sure don’t want to look back 10 years from now and say, ‘Man, I wish I would have done that.’”

‘He Can Help’

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said yesterday that the left-hander approached him during the offseason about possibly returning.

“If he’s healthy, he can help us significantly,” Cashman said on WFAN Radio in New York. He said Pettitte may need between six and 10 weeks to be ready to pitch in the major leagues.

Pettitte was the first retiree among the Yankees’ “Core Four,” a quartet of players who helped win four World Series from 1996 to 2000. Catcher Jorge Posada retired this season. Relief pitcher Mariano Rivera says he has made up his mind about retirement and will play at least this year. Shortstop Derek Jeter has given no indications about when he might stop playing.

Pettitte said the day he announced he was leaving that he knew he wouldn’t play in 2011 and didn’t rule out a future return.

‘Never Say Never’

“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.”

The left-hander helped the Yankees win five World Series titles in 13 seasons in the Bronx, setting a record with 19 postseason victories. He was an All-Star in 2010 before a groin injury limited his activity during the second half of that season.

Pettitte returns with a 240-138 career record and a 3.88 earned run average, twice winning 20 games in a season. His 203 wins for the Yankees are third most in franchise history, behind Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231). He went 11-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 2010.

Pettitte pitched for three years with the Houston Astros 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.

Pettitte said he considered retiring after 2008, but the draw of the new stadium kept him in a Yankees uniform. He put off retirement in 2010 as well, he said, because he felt he owed it to himself and the team to try to repeat as champions.

Pettitte has acknowledged that he used human growth hormone, a banned strength builder, to help recover from injuries. He was among potential witnesses in the U.S. case against Roger Clemens, a former teammate and training partner who is accused of lying to a congressional committee about his own steroid use. Clemens is set to go on trial for a second time in Washington after his original case ended in a mistrial over the prosecution’s presentation of barred evidence in July 2011.

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