Today’s stunning Andy Pettitte signing began coming together back in December when Pettitte heard Brian Cashman give a radio interview during which Cashman said Pettitte could be a great pitcher again if he came back this season. To Cashman’s surprise, Pettitte called him in late December to say he might be interested in doing just that.
“It wasn’t really helpful to me because I said, ‘What are you telling me?’” Cashman said. “He goes, ‘I don’t know what I’m telling you. It’s just something I’m thinking about.’ I kind of forced it a little bit, or tried to.”
To force it, Cashman offered a contract worth $10-12 million. He also told Pettitte he was in negotiations to trade for Michael Pineda and sign Hiroki Kuroda, and if those deals went through, the available money and roster spots would be gone. Pettitte couldn’t commit, and told Cashman he would need six weeks to workout and decide whether he wanted to play.
“We kinda agreed that something may not happen,” Pettitte said. “So (I wanted to) keep working out, see if you can get the juices flowing.”
At that point, Pettitte to the Yankees was still a longshot. Step-by-step, though, the whole thing came together.
Mid-January: The Yankees acquire Pineda and Kuroda
PETTITTE: “When they signed those guys, (Cashman) called me and said you can shut it down. The money (the Yankees) were going to use is gone. And the spot in the rotation, we have 7 starters now – because at that time we had AJ – and they said, ‘Go ahead and shut it down.’ And I said, ‘Ok.’ And after about 3-4 days, I looked at my wife, and I said, ‘Babe, I was loving working out.’ I couldn’t commit to them, but I was loving working out. So she said keep working out. So I kept working out.”
CASHMAN: “We wound up doing deals. I called him and just said, ‘By the way, you’ve seen what we’ve done.’ He goes, ‘I get it, no worries, I’m going to shut it down. I understand. Appreciate the honesty.’ That was it. So we have now two additional pitchers. We’re excited about it. … He said he shut it down. He’ll tell you, I’m not sure if it was a week to 10 days. It was no more than 10 days, at least a week that he said he shut it down. But unbeknownst to me, he got it going again.”
Late February: Pettitte comes to camp as a guest instructor
PETTITTE: “The reason I couldn’t commit to the Yankees earlier was because I didn’t have time to get on the mound and do the stuff I needed to do to tell them whether or not I could get there. During my work right now, my bullpen work, I can feel it all coming back, as far as the mental side of it. … I didn’t know if I would tell them or not (about the workouts). I told Hal and Cash, ‘Y’all told me to quit working out, but I’ve still been working out, and I’ve still been throwing, and I think I would love to play, man.’ They were like, ‘Oh my goodness. How are we going to work this out?’”
CASHMAN: “The day he left, he met with me. If he had a flight that afternoon he grabbed me and shut the door (in Girardi’s office) and said, ‘I’ve got to tell you something.’ … We know he can pitch in New York. He’s left-handed, and I know he’s obviously certainly long in tooth, but he’s also done the transition from power pitcher to some degree from the left side to tremendous pitchability. All that equipment is still there, or should still be there. Let’s go see. Why not?”
Tuesday morning: Pettitte threw a top-secret, early-morning bullpen in Tampa
CASHMAN: “He came down here before the Red Sox night game. He showed up here at 7:30 a.m. in front of myself, Larry (Rothschild), Joe (Girardi) and I brought Gene Michael over and we watched him do a bullpen. Not for a tryout purpose, but in a lot of discussions it was like, ‘Well, how far are you away?’ He said he’d been working out since January. He said he’d been throwing batting practice to his kids. He’d done at least six bullpens. At the same time, he wasn’t in a spring training camp type workout for pitchers. It was one of those things where I think mentally, he thinks he’s farther ahead than he is and privately we think he might be farther away than he thinks he is, so he did a bullpen here. Guys can work out all winter, but you get under the sun, you get a feel for it this way. That gave us and him a little bit more information.”
GIRARDI: “It was pretty good. He did his regular warmup, which I think is 34 pitches. Then he probably threw to (the equivalent of) three hitters, 15 pitches or so. He had all of his pitches. He threw them all. He threw them all pretty well. He got a little tired at the end but that’s to be expected I think. That’s somewhat of a long bullpen. We were pleased, and I can’t believe no one ever said anything.”
PETTITTE: “Once I stood on that mound, the other morning, it was like I’d never left. Even though it was Tuesday morning, and Cashman was standing there with Gene Michael and Joe, and Larry, and it was just like I had never left to tell you the truth. It was really weird.”
This morning: Agreed to $2.5-million deal during call with Cashman, Randy Levine and Hal Steinbrenner
CASHMAN: “It’s not easy when you make an offer of anywhere from 10, 11, 12 million in the wintertime in late December, to it’s now March whatever, and this is the best we can do. … He’s worth more than this, clearly, if he’s right. You know that. But we’re at the stage of the game now — just like anybody who signs in January, February, March, some of these free agents that are still sitting out there — they’re not going to get what they think they’re worth. It’s now about getting a job and taking what they can get.”
GIRARDI: “Until it was done I didn’t necessarily think (it would happen). I hadn’t known about it for very long, so I thought maybe when he threw his bullpen it would be a reality, and then it didn’t happen the next day or that day, so then I thought, well maybe it’s not going to happen. Really, until today I didn’t believe it was going to be a reality.”
PETTITTE: “Swish just called me and was screaming on the phone. I’ve talked to the guys, I’ve texted with pretty much all of them, before we released this, because I wanted to them to know. … Mo doesn’t know for sure. Mo’s not carrying a cell phone around anymore, he told me. He probably found out today. I did talk to Jeet. They’re excited, they’re fired up. I think the first text message I got when it came out was from Jorge. He’s fired up, and just saying congrats, and just wishing me the best.”
Next Tuesday: Pettitte is scheduled to arrive in Tampa to join the team
PETTITTE: “I’m sure I’ll be in touch with Larry, the pitching coach, then it’ll just be me and him getting this figured out, and figuring out exactly how slow they need to take me. I’m throwing bullpens where I’m throwing 60 or so pitches in a bullpen, so that’s built up pretty good right there, but I may have to back off from that to just start getting my leg stuff, covering bases, things like that. I haven’t done any of that on a daily basis.”
GIRARDI: “Obviously the next step is to get him prepared to pitch. He’s got to go through a spring training, basically. I can’t tell you exactly when he’ll be ready. You’ve got to make sure his legs are healthy and in shape, not healthy but in shape to take on what it takes to be a starting pitcher. He knows. He’s done it so many times, but we’ve got to make sure his legs are underneath him.”
CASHMAN: “He hasn’t thrown in a game since October 2010. We’re going to make sure we do the right thing, not cut a corner and rush and put him in a position where this is a waste of time and he’s not going to be in a position to stay healthy and be healthy and not be effective. He’s got to go through and get ready. … Does it complicate things? Yeah it does. But Andy Pettitte’s worth complicating things for.”
Associated Press photo