Pettitte feels healthy enough to maybe pitch beyond 2008

Updated: December 4, 2007, 5:05 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Andy Pettitte has decided to put off retirement and pitch for the New York Yankees in 2008 and maybe beyond that.

Pettitte's Better Half

As far as winning games, consistency has been Andy Pettitte's calling card since breaking in with the Yankees in 1995. In the second half of seasons, though, is when Pettitte really ramps up his performance:

Lefty's career split
  Before break After break
W-L 93-69 108-44
ERA 4.13 3.53
Opp. BA .276 .263
Starts 204 189

Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, said Monday that the 35-year-old left-hander had started telling teammates on Sunday. Hendricks then informed Yankees general manager Brian Cashman of the news.

The Houston Chronicle first reported that Pettitte would return in 2008.

"Everybody wanted me to come back," Pettitte told Houston television station KRIV on Tuesday. "My wife realized that if she would have said 'Let's shut it down,' I would have definitely done that. She was like 'Let's see how it goes one more year.' So with that support and all of my teammates' support, no matter what, wanting me to come back and do this again, that's probably the big thing."

Teammates had lobbied the left-hander to return.

"Players such as [Derek] Jeter and [Jorge] Posada told him how much they needed him back, as did Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi," Hendricks said on Monday, according to The Associated Press. "Andy decided this weekend that he didn't want to keep the Yankees on hold as they sought to determine their team for next year."

Pettitte is feeling healthy enough that he may consider playing longer than one more year, perhaps in the new stadium the Yankees plan to open in 2009.

"This was such a tough decision for me," Pettitte said on Tuesday, according to KRIV. "One year could lead to another maybe. For the main reason, if I'm healthy and if my family wanted to support it again, we would consider it. But also the Yankees are going to have a new stadium. I know down the road when we get through this season that will be in the back of my head also. That would be awfully nice to play in that new stadium. I'd be lying if I didn't say that was some of the stuff that you think about. I realize there are some things that could be enticing that tie me into playing even another year."

The decision to return came as the Yankees were approaching a Monday deadline for the Minnesota Twins to decide whether they will trade them two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana for pitcher Phil Hughes, center fielder Melky Cabrera and a midlevel prospect.

Pettitte had declined a $16 million option last month, saying he needed more time, and Posada said last week that Pettitte was leaning toward retirement. The pitcher had said late in the season that it had become increasingly difficult to be away from his family during the season.

Pettitte was 15-9 with a 4.05 ERA this year in his return to the Yankees following three seasons with his hometown Houston Astros. He went 11-3 after the All-Star break and was New York's most effective starter during the first-round playoff loss to Cleveland, pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 2.

New York had said it could wait until next month for Pettitte to make a decision. Cashman said the $16 million option Pettitte declined was a standing offer.

"Sure, I'm happy," Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said. "There's still a couple details to work out there."

All of the Yankees' major free agents have now decided to return, with Pettitte following Posada, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and closer Mariano Rivera.

New York's projected rotation now includes Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, with Ian Kennedy in reserve. But Steinbrenner said Sunday his preference was to make the deal for Santana, which would give New York a stronger ace as it competes to regain the AL East title from the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Steinbrenner said on Tuesday that a deal between the Yankees and Twins is all but dead.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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