- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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As expected, New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina has decided to retire, according to a baseball source with knowledge of the situation. Mussina informed the Yankees last week he would give them a decision by the end of this week.
Mussina, who turns 40 next month, spent the last eight seasons with the Yankees after pitching for the Baltimore Orioles for the first 10 years of his career. His 270 wins rank second among all active right-handers, behind only Greg Maddux. In the final start of his career, he pitched six shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox to finish off the first 20-win season of his career.
"I have not talked to him lately," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday evening at a Manhattan charity event to benefit his Catch 25 Foundation and Alzheimer's research. "He had led me to believe that that's what was going to happen at the end of the year. I wasn't quite sure in a sense that I believed him because sometimes when you get away from it you really miss it."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he's just the fifth pitcher since 1900 to win 20 games or more in the final season of his career -- and the first since Sandy Koufax in 1967. He's the only pitcher in that group to win his 20th game in his final start.
The Yankees had indicated they were interested in bringing Mussina back if he wanted to keep pitching. But they had also suggested they might need to wait to see if they could accomplish their goal of signing at least two other free-agent starters this season -- an indication they weren't counting on Mussina to return from the beginning.
"I know he talked about wanting to be home more. And if he does, I won't be surprised," Girardi was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. "But if he comes back, I won't be surprised, either. And I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if that's what he said, [then] changes his mind in January. Because you know it's something that's been such a huge part of his life and his family life, that you miss it."
A text message The Associated Press sent to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was not immediately returned. Girardi said he hadn't spoken with Mussina since the season ended.
"I know Brian, as far as I know as of today, had not made him an offer," Girardi added. "But we were just kind of waiting to see what he said, and he was on our radar screen as well as many other starting pitchers that are free agents."
Mussina's retirement was first reported by FoxSports.com.
"Mike will be making a decision on his intentions shortly," Mussina's agent, Arn Tellem, said in an e-mail to 1050 ESPN Radio in New York. "Given the significance of this to Mike I would hope you can respect his desire to be the author of any such announcement consistent with his own time table. A decision of this magnitude should not be the subject of unconfirmed rumors and speculation. Accordingly, I am not going to make any further comment until Mike has made his final decision."
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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