When the Yankees season came to an abrupt end, Brian Cashman wasted no time trying to get Andy Pettitte back into the rotation.
“As soon as the season was over, I spoke with Cash,” Pettitte said. “(He) basically said that, ‘As soon as you can, we want you back. I don’t know what you’re going to do, but as soon as you decide, we want to sign you back.’ That’s obviously huge for a player. For Cash to reach out to me and tell me that, you feel like this organization feels pretty good about bringing you back and feels pretty good about what you’ve done, and that’s obviously a huge part of me coming back also.”
Pettitte went home. Spent roughly a month with his family. Helped his oldest son, Josh, choose a college. Made sure his wife was still okay with another season. About two weeks ago, he started working out again. He told the Yankees he wanted to comeback, and the basics of the deal were in place before Thanksgiving. Everything came together quickly, with few surprises or hesitations.
“The Yankees made it easy on me,” Pettitte said. “My agent called me and said, ‘Hey, this is what we’ve got. I don’t think they’re doing anything else.’ And I agreed. Then we just had the Thanksgiving weekend, so really the negotiations it seemed like were for a day or so. That was it.”
On how strongly he considered retirement
“I think everyone, the way I was feeling, was kind of assuming I still had a great desire to pitch. It was still a point where I still felt like it was pretty important to go home whenever I tried to start making the decision on if I was going to play again or not, and obviously still talk to the family about the situation and what they were thinking. Just to make sure, they — especially my wife — hadn’t had a change of how she was feeling about things. So it was for me pretty easy once I started working out and trying to decide if I felt like I had the desire to do the work that needed to be put in. It was pretty easy for me to realize that this was something I wanted to try and do again.”
On whether last year’s injury factored into the decision to come back
“I’m not real sure exactly how that played into it. I definitely think that if I would have pitched a full season and thrown 200 innings that I definitely wouldn’t feel as fresh and physically feel as good as I do right now, and obviously (I) was able to I feel like that helped lead me to a quick decision. … I would imagine if I’d thrown a full season and 200 innings, my body would be beat up pretty good and it would have definitely been a more difficult decision. I may have maybe fully exhausted myself of feeling like this is something I can still do. With the injury, I still have the desire. For me, it was when I tried to start working out on the 16th or 17th of this month, really having strong desire still to work and looking forward to doing the work to pitch a big league season this year.”
On whether his competitive nature is as high as when he was younger
“When I retired, I just did not have the desire to work. Whenever I came back last year, when Cash spoke to me about would I consider coming back, when I started working out, that desire was there again. Last year, I felt my desire to compete was as strong as it’s ever been in my career. I still feel like that right now. There’s obviously a point where that desire will be there and the competitive nature will be there, but you just can’t do it. I feel like I’m healthy, the desire is there, the family is behind it and I feel good about it in my heart to do it. I would say it’s pretty strong.”
On whether he would consider pitching beyond 2013
“Whenever I shut it down again, that is going to be it. It wouldn’t be smart for me to just say right now that I would never play next year. I just don’t think that would be smart because I have no idea. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what this year is going to hold. There’s a lot of things that will go on during the course of this year, I would imagine, that will play into that decision at the end of this season.”
On whether this team is good enough to win a World Series
“I think we’re good enough to go all the way, I really do. I’m at the point where, if I didn’t feel like we had a chance to win it, deep down, I wouldn’t do this. I feel like we’ve got a certain group of guys that are still there and that know how to win and know how to get it done, and we can go do that. Very disappointed in the way last year ended. I know everyone is. What I’m hoping is that we can learn from that. We can learn from the failure that we had last year in the playoffs, the disappointment, and we can be better and hopefully get back to where we were last year and have an opportunity to go to a World Series. That’s all you can ask. We know the division is going to be nasty, tough again. It is going to be an absolute grind the way the teams have built themselves up, but we’re looking forward to it. We’re looking forward to the competition and I know that we’ve got a team that has a chance to win.”
Associated Press photo