New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte said he’s retiring from Major League Baseball for the second time, concluding an 18-season career as the sport’s active leader in wins and atop the all-time list in postseason victories.
Pettitte, a five-time World Series champion with the Yankees who skipped the 2011 season before returning a year later, won’t come back for a 19th year, the team said in an e-mailed news release.
“I’ve reached the point where I know that I’ve left everything I have out there on that field,” Pettitte said in the statement. “The time is right. I’ve exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that’s exactly how I want to leave this game.”
The 41-year-old left-hander is 255-152 with a 3.86 career earned run average, having made his debut for the Yankees in 1995 after being taken in the 22nd round of the 1990 amateur draft. He played for New York until 2003 before joining his hometown Houston Astros for three seasons. He returned to New York in 2008.
“I was almost 100 percent coming into the season that this was going to be it,” Pettitte said at a televised news conference. “There was nothing that went on during the season that was changing my mind.”
Pettitte’s win total is the most among active major leaguers, 50 more than Tim Hudson, who ranks second. He also has a major-league best 19 postseason wins, helping the Yankees to championships in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009.
Those deciding Pettitte’s worthiness for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame also will have to consider his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Two days after he was among more than 70 players named in the December 2007 Mitchell Report on doping in baseball, Pettitte said he used human growth hormone to help him return from injury. He said he never doped at any other time and that he didn’t use steroids.
Pettitte said today the only regret he had was that people might think he tried to cheat the game by using HGH.
“I know my heart and I’ll tell you, I’ve never tried to cheat this game,” he said. “I’ve never tried to cheat anything in my life.”
Pettitte, who is scheduled to make his next regular-season appearance in two days at Yankee Stadium against the San Francisco Giants, is 10-10 this season with a 3.86 ERA.
“I’m announcing my retirement prior to the conclusion of our season because I want all of our fans to know now -- while I’m still wearing this uniform -- how grateful I am for their support throughout my career,” he said in the statement. “I want to have the opportunity to tip my cap to them during these remaining days and thank them for making my time here with the Yankees so special.”
The Yankees, at 80-73, trail five other American League teams in the race for the two wild-card playoff berths that are given to non-division winners with the best records. The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers each are 83-69 and lead the wild-card race, 3 1/2 games ahead of New York, which has nine games remaining.
Pettitte’s final Yankee Stadium outing will coincide with a celebration of teammate Mariano Rivera, baseball’s all-time saves leader who also is retiring at season’s end. The two pitchers joined the Yankees in 1995 along with shortstop Derek Jeter and catcher Jorge Posada, making up the core of New York’s championship success. Posada retired after the 2011 season.
“One of the things I struggled with in making this announcement now was doing anything to take away from Mariano’s day on Sunday,” Pettitte said in the statement. “It is his day. He means so much to me, and has meant so much to my career that I would just hate to somehow take the attention away from him.”
Yankees manager and former teammate Joe Girardi credited Pettitte’s ability to “will his mind over his body” to overcome any difficulties he faced in the game.
“The guys in that room are losing a great teammate and a great competitor,” Girardi said at a news conference. “It’s just who Andy Pettitte is, when the stakes get higher he gets better.”
A three-time All-Star, among Pettitte’s other achievements is becoming the only player in major-league history to pitch for at least 17 years without a losing season. He’ll put that streak on the line with his final two outings.
“Do I feel like I’ve dominated this sport as a pitcher? No, I don’t,” Pettitte said. “Every outing, for me, I feel like has been an absolute grind, to tell you the truth.”