Yankees' Andy Pettitte retires

Updated: February 5, 2011, 9:28 AM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte believes his body can handle the grind of the 2011 Yankees season, but his heart just isn't into it.

That is one of the many reasons Pettitte cited in announcing his retirement during a 45-minute news conference at Yankee Stadium on Friday morning.

"It just didn't feel right for me anymore. I didn't have the hunger, the drive that I felt like I needed," Pettitte said with his wife, Laura, seated by his side.

Pettitte struggled with his decision for the entire offseason and thought as recently as two weeks ago that he would pitch in 2011.

But as the Feb. 14 report date for pitchers and catchers drew closer, the 38-year-old left-hander realized that he couldn't commit to playing a 17th season in the major leagues, choosing instead to spend time with his wife and children in Deer Park, Texas.

"I know that my body would get to where it needs to be, but my heart's not where it needs to be," he said.

Pettitte compiled a 240-138 record and a 3.88 ERA in 13 seasons with the Yankees and three with the Houston Astros. He is a three-time All-Star, a two-time 20-game winner and a member of five Yankees world championship teams. He also appeared in two other World Series with the Yankees and one with the Astros. His 19 postseason wins, 42 postseason starts and 263 postseason innings pitched are the most in baseball history.

Pettitte said on Friday that he would cherish the World Series wins and his relationships with his teammates most when he looks back on his playing days.

He also said that he would sit out for the entire 2011 season, but left open the possibility of returning to the mound in the future.

"I can tell you one thing: I am not going to play this season. I can tell you that 100 percent," he said. "But I guess you can never say never."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and former teammate Bernie Williams were among a group of Yankees on hand to support Pettitte.

Cashman said Pettitte made it clear to him early in the offseason that he was leaning toward retirement. Pettitte made it official with a phone call to the general manager on Tuesday night.

Cashman said on Friday that he'd miss Pettitte's presence in the locker room as much as his presence on the mound.

Along with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, Pettitte was among the last remaining members of the Yankees teams that won four championships in five seasons between 1996 and 2000.

"He's going to be tough to replace, clearly, on the mound. But he's going to be even tougher to replace in that clubhouse because he's been a glue guy," Cashman said. "He's been a guy that whatever another teammate is going through, he's going to be there and help them through it and be there for them."

Friday's announcement ends an offseason full of speculation for Pettitte, who has wrestled with the decision to retire or play for the past three offseasons.

Pettitte said he was fairly certain he was "done" when the Yankees left Arlington Stadium after their season-ending Game 6 loss to the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series. Be he "felt a huge obligation" to return to the team after ace Cliff Lee decided to sign with the Phillies over the Yankees in early December. Soon after, he began working out and throwing in preparation for the season.

His wife was pushing for him to play in early January and he told Cashman on Jan. 9 that he would "seriously start considering" playing in 2011. He said after three-plus weeks of working out, he felt physically prepared to pitch. But he could never fully commit to a return to the Bronx.

Pettitte made his final decision on a four-hour drive home from his ranch in a remote part of south Texas.

"I just didn't feel like I was going to be completely there, and that's really the ultimate decision," Pettitte said. "And then just the desire to compete ... If that's not there, it just kind of overrided everything."

Pettitte admitted publicly to using human growth hormone on two occasions in '02 and '04 to recover from injuries and is expected to testify in the upcoming perjury trial of Roger Clemens. He insisted on Friday that his potential presence in court played no role in his choice to retire.

"That has not had any effect, I mean zero, in my decision," he said. "I would never let that interfere with the decision, a life decision that I'm going to make for me and my family."

Pettitte got off to the best start of his career in 2010, going 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA before a groin strain suffered on July 18 robbed him of two months of the season. He finished up 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA and went 1-1 in the postseason, beating the Minnesota Twins in Game 2 of the ALDS and losing Game 3 of the ALCS to the Rangers and Lee despite allowing just two runs in seven innings.

Pettitte's retirement leaves the Yankees extremely thin in the starting rotation, with CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett the only experienced returning starters on the staff.

Ivan Nova, who made a handful of starts as a rookie last season, is expected to fill the No. 4 spot and a collection of retreads -- Sergio Mitre plus new acquisitions Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia -- will compete for the No. 5 spot in spring training unless Cashman can add another experienced starter.

"We're going to wait and see what we've got in camp. There is a comfort level with CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett," Cashman said on Friday. "And then obviously we have some kids in the system, as well as non-roster invites that are going to compete and take a run at the remaining spots. We'll see what we see when we get there."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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