Pettitte: Astros were ready to move on without me

Updated: December 9, 2006, 11:33 PM ET
Associated Press

Andy Pettitte

HOUSTON -- Andy Pettitte says he moved from Houston back to New York because the Yankees put on a "full-court press" and the Astros showed signs they were ready to move on without him.

Pettitte and the Yankees reached a preliminary agreement Friday on a $16 million, one-year contract, a deal that reunites the two-time All-Star with the team he helped win four World Series titles.

The deal includes a $16 million player option for 2008 that Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, said Pettitte would not exercise if he were hurt and unable to play.

Peter Gammons' Take
Peter Gammons
Of course it helps to have the Yankees' revenues to take on Bobby Abreu's $15 million salary when the Phillies want him out of town and pay Andy Pettitte $16 million off a 14-13, 4.20 ERA season.

Though Yankee Stadium in the late 1980's was about the last place this side of a West Virginia coal mine that anyone wanted to play, what Gene Michael and Buck Showalter turned around and Brian Cashman and Joe Torre have cultivated is a place players want to go to and win.

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Many fans in Houston had hoped Pettitte would extend his three-year stay with his hometown club. Pettitte and Hendricks said they offered to play for the Astros for $14 million, but that the Astros would offer no more than $12 million and balked at the second-year option.

Pettitte said Saturday he was surprised the Astros wouldn't bridge the gap between the two proposals.

"It shocked me that [the Astros] would not continue to go up, when the Yankees continued to push and push and pursue and they [the Astros] really didn't do much," he said. "It was a full-court press by the Yankees. I've talked to the guys, and obviously they wanted me to come back up there."

Houston was on the verge of obtaining pitcher Jon Garland from the Chicago White Sox earlier this week for outfielder Willy Taveras, pitchers Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh, a move Pettitte said made it clear the Astros had written him off.

"You've got to figure that was a pretty good sign that they were going to move on," Pettitte said in a news conference at the Battleground Country Club.

Pettitte's defection to the Yankees intensified speculation that close friend, former Yankees and Astros teammate Roger Clemens, would join him in back in New York. But Pettitte said he had not talked with Clemens about his decision.

"I haven't talked with Roger one time during these negotiations," Pettitte said. "I don't know what Roger's going to do. I worry about what Andy Pettitte has to do, and then go from there. ... What he does is his decision."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press