Yankee pitching coach gets raise
NEW YORK -- A raise made Mel Stottlemyre feel George Steinbrenner wanted him to stay on as the New York Yankees pitching coach.
"Even though it wasn't through a direct conversation or anything like that, it was like a show of good faith that he wanted me to return," Stottlemyre said Friday, a day after telling the Yankees he had decided against retirement.
With Stottlemyre's presence assured, the Yankees hope Andy Pettitte will follow suit. The left-hander, who became a free agent after the World Series loss to Florida, is close to Stottlemyre and spoke to him Thursday -- though mostly about hunting.
"I tried very hard not to be a recruiter," Stottlemyre said. "I just wanted to talk to him person-to-person as opposed to his situation in baseball. There is no question I would love to have Andy Pettitte back on my staff again for another year."
Stottlemyre, who turned 62 on Thursday, was in Las Vegas to celebrate his birthday and his wife's, too. His family told him in recent weeks to do what he thought was best.
When he left Yankee Stadium after the World Series, he wasn't sure whether he wanted to stay on as Joe Torre's pitching coach, saying he felt "personally abused." Bench coach Don Zimmer quit, saying he never would work for Steinbrenner again.
"It was kind of a rocky season for most of the coaches along with Joe Torre," Stottlemyre said. "There had been some things said through the press, not face-to-face. I had my run-ins with George. I wanted to make sure they were done, and I would enjoy working and doing my job."
Torre sounded relieved.
"I held my breath like everyone else, and I could not be happier that Mel will be back in 2004," he said in a statement. "I talked to Mel twice on Thursday and think he's very happy to be back and glad that the waiting time is over."
Stottlemyre was treated in 2000 for multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer. These days, his health isn't a concern.
"I've had a lot of conversations with my doctor and talked about if it would be better for me to retire now," Stottlemyre said. "I've had much reassurance from him. I should have absolutely zero problem."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press