Veteran left-hander has spent 15 of his 18 big league seasons with Yankees
NEW YORK -- There has already been one instance when Andy Pettitte's voice carried through a Yankee Stadium microphone, calling it a career. He found himself back on the mound after a year at home, having realized that he had not fully exhausted himself of pitching.
Pettitte revealed on Friday that he had quietly decided that the 2013 season was going to be his last, but he felt no need to make a special announcement because of the prior ceremony. It was Mariano Rivera who insisted that he must, and so Pettitte reluctantly agreed.
"Obviously, Mo was one of the guys that has known for a while that I was done and I was retiring," Pettitte said. "He all along has told me, 'You've got to announce it. You need to say something.'"
So there Pettitte was, taking a seat in the same room where he said goodbye for the first time, in February 2011. There were many of the same words but decidedly fewer frills; for one thing, his family was absent.
Rivera and Joba Chamberlain attended in their place, listening as the 41-year-old left-hander explained his decision to walk away at the conclusion of the season. Pettitte said that he craves a chance to say goodbye to the fans, something he was not able to do the first time.
"They have been absolutely great to me, and it's been wonderful playing here for the years that I've played here," he said. "I really wanted to have an opportunity to do that."
He will have that chance in his final regular-season Yankee Stadium start, on Sunday against the Giants, an event that coincides with the Yankees' scheduled send-off celebration for Rivera.
Pettitte said that there was some trepidation in taking attention from Rivera, but in discussing the matter over lunch this week in Toronto, Rivera was enthusiastic about the idea of sharing the afternoon.
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"I wanted it to be professional. I wanted it to be the right way," Rivera said. "We discussed that. I told him, 'Don't worry about it, just announce it, and we'll have a good time.'"
The careers of Pettitte and Rivera are intertwined anyway, as both comprise major cornerstones of the dynasty that saw the Yankees win four World Series championships in five years beginning in 1996.
Pettitte and Rivera have served as a dynamic duo, with Rivera securing 74 of Pettitte's 218 victories as a Yankee -- the most win-save combinations between any starter and reliever in Major League history.
"It's like brothers," Rivera said. "We came up with this organization at the same time. We've been through good times and bad times, but at the same time, we have enjoyed what we do. Now we're going out together, too."
"We had a great run here, and my time here is done," Pettitte said.
The departures of Pettitte and Rivera will leave Derek Jeter as the last remaining member of the Core Four, with Jorge Posada having announced his retirement after the 2011 season.
Most career postseason starts
Jeter holds a $9.5 million player option to play next season and intends to do so. He has not thought about what it will be like to be on a Yankees team without Pettitte and Rivera, but he knows it will be different.
"These are guys that I've shared my history with, a lot of experiences with," Jeter said. "They'll be missed, the same as when Jorge retired. They'll be missed not only by me but by the fans and the entire organization."
Pettitte is 10-10 with a 3.93 ERA in 28 starts this year, and he will leave as baseball's all-time leader in postseason victories (19), starts (44) and innings pitched (276 2/3).
Asked how he hopes to be remembered, he replied, "I hope just as a great teammate and someone that just took the ball every fifth day and gave it everything I got."
Pettitte also expressed regrets concerning his link to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. He was named in the Mitchell Report and later acknowledged using human growth hormone on two occasions in 2002 to recover from an injury to his left elbow.
"When you ask me that, you want to say ... Obviously, you regret that that got out," he said. "I think everybody knows ... You never think that was the right thing to do or anything like that.
"I know my heart and I'll tell you, I've never tried to cheat this game. I've never tried to do anything to cheat this game. I've never tried to cheat anything in my life."
With the Yankees fighting long odds to qualify for the postseason, Pettitte has been one of the club's most reliable starters, going 3-1 with a 2.07 ERA in his past seven starts.
"Vintage Andy Pettitte," manager Joe Girardi said. "Crunch time, he's always there. When the stakes get higher, he gets better."
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Career regular-season and postseason games with the Yankees
Andy Pettitte *
* -- played 84 more regular-season games and four more postseason games during his three seasons with the Astros
It is possible that Pettitte's final Major League start could come against the Astros in Houston, where the Yankees conclude the regular season from Sept. 27-29. That could be a fitting conclusion for the resident of Deer Park, Texas.
The Yankees and Astros are the only two clubs for which Pettitte has played, going 255-152 with a 3.86 ERA during his 18-year career. He played in Houston from 2004 to 2006, going 37-26 with a 3.38 ERA in 84 games.
"Obviously, that's where all my family is and a ton of my friends are there," he said. "I just feel like it's all kind of worked out really good."
A five-time World Series winner who pitched in eight Fall Classics, Pettitte has 218 victories as a Yankee, which ranks third in franchise history behind Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231). In July he surpassed Ford (1,957) for the Yankees' all-time franchise lead in strikeouts.
"A warrior," Rivera said. "Every game that he pitched, he gave his heart out. He didn't hold anything. Whatever he had that day, he gave us."
Pettitte was prepared to lock in his decision because he is certain that he has mentally and physically emptied his tank. That was not the case in the first retirement, when he said his body was willing but that his heart was not where it needed to be.
Now he laughed and said that he continues to ache in new places all the time; his body is having more trouble keeping up, which makes the decision easier. Knowing what awaits on the other side of retirement, he told Rivera to expect it to be "wonderful."
"I just know that I'm excited to be done when this season is over, and just looking forward to it," he said. "I'm so thankful for the time that I've had in this game."