Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pettitte pulling pin

Retiring at season's end -- for sure this time

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NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte had no interest in a farewell tour or some big pronouncement regarding his (second) retirement. Anything more than a conference call the day after the season would only feel embarrassing.

"Because I've done this before," said a sheepish Pettitte, who briefly stepped away from baseball two years ago. "I feel awkward doing this right now, to tell you the truth."

Still, the New York Yankees pitcher was having a hard time telling people he wasn't sure if he would be back next season when he already knew this was it. And he wanted to thank fans for all their support, something he wished he had a chance to do the first time.

So after discussing it with several close friends -- including Mariano Rivera over lunch in Toronto -- Pettitte chose to formally announce his decision at a Yankee Stadium news conference Friday.

"I'm ready to be home again," Pettitte said. "But the biggest thing is, I'm just done."

'The time is right. I've exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that's exactly how I want to leave this game'

-- Andy Pettitte

In a statement released Friday afternoon, hours before the Yankees began their final homestand, the 41-year-old Pettitte said he has reached the point where he knows he has left everything he has on the field.

The left-hander initially retired after the 2010 season, but sat out only one year before returning to the Yankees.

This time, he means it.

"The time is right. I've exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that's exactly how I want to leave this game," he said.

In a nice bit of symmetry, Pettitte is scheduled to make two more starts this season -- one at Yankee Stadium and the other in his hometown of Houston.

"That is crazy. It really is. It's cool that it's going to work out that way," he said.

Pettitte is set to pitch against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, when the Yankees will honour Rivera in a pre-game ceremony. Baseball's career saves leader also is retiring.

Pettitte said one of the things he struggled with in making an announcement was "doing anything to take away from Mariano's day" because of how much Rivera has meant to him and his career.

Rivera, however, encouraged Pettitte to say goodbye at Yankee Stadium.

"He thinks it's going to make the day even better," Pettitte said. "I feel like we're connected."

Rivera has saved 72 of Pettitte's 255 career wins, the most for any tandem in major league history.

"It's like brothers. We came up in this organization at the same time. We've been through good times and bad times," Rivera said. "Now we go out together, too."

Asked if he had any regrets, Pettitte mentioned human growth hormone. He has admitted using the banned substance years ago, saying he did it in an effort to recover faster from an injury.

He said he would never want kids to think he tried to cheat.

"I know my heart. I've never tried to cheat this game. Never tried to cheat anything in my life," Pettitte said. "That's the truth."

Pettitte holds MLB records for post-season wins (19) and starts (44), but it would take quite a surge by the Yankees for him to get an opportunity to add to those marks. They began the day 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay and Texas for the second AL wild card, with three other teams in between.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 21, 2013 C10

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