By the end of this morning’s press conference, Andy Pettitte had given a rough step-by-step account of how and when he came to this decision. Some of the dates are definite — Pettitte remembered the exact day that he told Brian Cashman he was seriously considering a comeback — and others are approximate, but the rough idea was laid out through a series of questions and answers.
“I really believe in my heart, a lot of this started last year when I hurt myself,” Pettitte said. “I feel like, in my heart, that God was preparing me for this,” Pettitte said. “When I hurt my groin, I was just out of control as far as, I’ll be back in two weeks, I can promise you that. I’ll be back in two weeks, three weeks maybe. I was feeling unbelievable and I thought I had a great chance to do that. And then I re-injured it. Then I felt like I maybe re-injured it again. The next thing you know, it’s two and a half months, and the last month of that I wasn’t doing anything really.”
August and September, 2011
“I’m telling you, at the end of the season last year, I started losing a little bit of that desire to compete,” Pettitte said. “I guess because I was out of it for the two and a half months of the second half. So, I definitely thought about it. but again, for me it’s not the right way to do it. that’s all that I kept telling myself. this in’t the right way to do it.
October 7, 2010
When Pettitte made his first postseason start of the year having pitched only 13.1 big league innings in roughly three months.
“I was shut down for two and a half months,” he said. “And I feel like mentally I was still able to go out in the postseason and compete like I did.”
The lasting impact, Pettitte said, was that he realized he could mentally prepare himself after physically not doing much. That’s how he knew he could have a light winter and still be mentally ready to pitch if he changed his mind about retirement.
October 18, 2010
“When I left Arlington stadium at the end of the season last year, I felt like I was done,” Pettitte said.
“He told me after we played the Rangers in the playoffs that he felt like that was it,” Laura Pettitte said.
“He told me in Arlington, ‘Don’t count on me,’” Cashman said.
Month of November, 2010
“He didn’t do anything for the first couple of months of the offseason,” Laura said.
It’s not especially unusual for a player to take some time off when the offseason starts, but the situation was unusual for Pettitte.
“As banged up as my groin was, if I was planning on playing I would have immediately needed to start rehabbing as soon as the season was over,” he said. “I didn’t do anything.”
December 14, 2010
Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies and Pettitte felt a “huge obligation” to come to the rescue.
“That was why I started working out,” he said.
January 9, 2011
Pettitte remembered this as one of the days he called Cashman. “I told him, I’ll seriously start considering this,” Pettitte said.
It was around this time that Laura told him to “make sure” he was done. “When she tells me that, I have to seriously start considering it,” Pettitte said. He ramped up his workouts and began going through more-or-less his regular offseason routine. The work was familiar. The feeling was not.
“I know exactly what it feels like to be here,” he said. “And it just didn’t feel right for me any more. I didn’t have the hunger, the drive that I felt like I needed. I don’t know how to explain it, but I just knew it was different.”
“Two weeks ago I told (Laura) I was playing,” Pettitte said. “I said, ‘I’m just going to play.’ I can torture myself. I’ll get through it.”
Although reluctant, Pettitte went so far as to come up with a plan to hire a professional cameraman to record video of his kids’ baseball, tee-ball and volleyball games so he could watch the tapes in New York.
“After I worked out, I made a run down to my ranch,” Pettitte said. “It’s like a four-hour drive, and I came back the very next morning. It gave me like eight to 10 hours to be in the vehicle by myself. She was like, get out of here and go figure this out. Really, (that) is exactly what she said. I’m not in a very bad mood very often, at all, and I was starting to get a little irritable, I think, and was not being very nice. So she basically booted me and said, go figure this out.”
Alone at his ranch — “Nobody’s there, nobody’s around” — Pettitte had one last wrestling match with his desire to pitch one more season.
“When I dig deep down in it and did some soul-searching, I don’t know how to explain it, (but) it wasn’t there,” Pettitte said. “It just wasn’t there like I wanted it to be there.”
Just a few days after Pettitte’s solo trip to the ranch — Pettitte said it was about four-days later — he and Laura went down to the ranch together.
“We were actually, last weekend, on our way home from the ranch and he just said, ‘I’m done. That’s it.’” Laura said. “He wanted to make a decision by this past week, and he did. That’s one thing, when he sets his mind to something, he’s pretty sure of it.”
February 1, 2011
Pettitte called Cashman to tell the GM his decision.
“Tuesday night he came to a conclusion that he had a final (decision),” Cashman said. “He had told me that he wasn’t going to play.”
February 3, 2011
Pettitte had already talked to the Core Four, making sure they heard the retirement news straight from Pettitte himself. On Thursday, though, the news went public and Pettitte’s phone buzzed with text messages. One of them was from Tino Martinez.
“Tino said, Andy, if there was any hesitation at all, you’re making the right decision,” Pettitte said. “To me, that was huge. It verified for me, because he said he had played a year too long.”
“The only time I get emotional is when I think about the guys, you know what I’m saying?” Pettitte said. “I don’t know why. The only thing I can tell you is, because I feel like God has given me a great peace about it, I feel like it’s the right thing. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t feel it was the right thing in my heart.
“And everybody keeps asking me, are you done? Are you sure you’re done? And yeah, I do. I feel right now like I’m done. I don’t feel like I’m tore up. Am I gonna miss it? I am gonna miss it. Am I said? I’m sad, you know. When I walked into this tunnel and walked into the clubhouse and looked around, that’s sad. But when you feel like it’s the right decision you’ve got to feel good about that. And I feel good about it.”
Associated Press photos