NEW YORK -- A raise made Mel Stottlemyre feel George
Steinbrenner wanted him to stay on as the New York Yankees pitching
"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."