Familiar with retirement, Pettitte will try it again

This time he means it.

Andy Pettitte knows what retirement is all about. He experienced it in 2011 but decided to come back and pitch again in 2012. Friday he announced his retirement again for good.

“I was 100-percent convinced coming into the season that this would be it,” Pettitte said. “I came back last year and broke my leg, which put a wrinkle in that. I just felt now was the time. There was nothing that would happen during the season that would change my mind.”

Petttite had lunch with Mariano Rivera while the team was in Toronto earlier this week. Mo told Andy he needed to make an announcement to the fans. Pettitte said he was reluctant to take away from Rivera’s special day Sunday when the Yankees plan a ceremony in the closer’s honor. The Yankees’ starting pitcher that day will be Pettitte.

Rivera insisted this was the best time. And it seems to work out perfectly all around for Pettitte because his final start of the regular season will be next weekend in Houston not far from his Deer Park, Texas, home against the Astros for whom he pitched for three seasons, including that franchise’s only World Series appearance in 2005.

“I’m announcing my retirement prior to the conclusion of our season because I want all of our fans to know now—while I’m still wearing this uniform—how grateful I am for their support throughout my career,” Pettitte said. “I want to have the opportunity to tip my cap to them during these remaining days and thank them for making my time here with the Yankees so special.

“I’ve reached the point where I know that I’ve left everything I have out there on that field. The time is right. I’ve exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that’s exactly how I want to leave this game. One of the things I struggled with in making this announcement now was doing anything to take away from Mariano’s day Sunday. It is his day. He means so much to me, and has meant so much to my career that I would just hate to somehow take the attention away from him.”

Pettitte, 41, has a 255-152 (.627) career record with a 3.86 ERA in 3,300 innings over 529 games (519 starts) inn 18 seasons with the Yankees (1995-2003, ’07-10, ’12-13) and Astros (2004-06). At 103 games over .500 in his career, Pettitte is the only active pitcher—and one of 26 pitchers in baseball history—to post a record of 100-or-more games over .500. Of the 25 other pitchers to accomplish the feat, 18 have been enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I don’t think about the Hall of Fame unless I’m asked about it,” Pettitte said. “I feel blessed that people will bring my name into that conversation. Have I been a pitcher who dominated? Every game has been a grind for me. I’d continue to pitch if [the Hall of Fame] was a desire of mine. I wouldn’t have retired in the first place.”

Originally selected by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1990 First-Year Player Draft, Pettitte has played 15 seasons with the club, going 218-126 with a 3.95 ERA and 2,009 strikeouts in 445 games (436 starts) and 2,780 innings. He is the franchise leader in strikeouts and is on pace to finish his career tied with Whitey Ford (438) for the most starts in Yankees history.

Pettitte trails only Ford (236 victories, 3,171 innings) and Red Ruffing (231 victories, 3,168 innings) in winning decisions and innings pitched with the Yankees and ranks fifth in franchise history in appearances. He appeared in eight career World Series (seven with the Yankees) and won championships in 1996, ‘98, ’99, 2000 and ’09.

Andy is the all-time winningest pitcher in postseason history with a 19-11 record and 3.81 ERA (276.2IP, 117ER) in 44 career starts totaling 276 2/3 innings. He also ranks first all time in postseason starts and innings pitched and is second with 183 strikeouts. His personal career postseason victory total is more than that of eight other franchises (Royals 18, Diamondbacks 17, Mariners 15, Brewers 14, Padres 12, Rays 11, Rockies 9, Expos/Nationals 7).

With the Yankees in postseason play, Pettitte is 18-10 with a 3.76 ERA (251.1IP, 105ER) in 40 career starts and 251 1/3 innings. While winning his final World Series with the Yankees in 2009, he became the first pitcher in baseball history to start and win the clinching game of all three series in a single postseason (ALDS vs. the Twins, ALCS vs. the Angels and World Series against the Phillies).

This season, Pettitte has gone 10-10 with 3.93 ERA (169.1IP, 74ER) in 28 starts and 169 1/3 innings. He struck out the Red Sox’ David Ross Sept. 6 to become the first Yankees pitcher in franchise history to reach 2,000 strikeouts with the club. With his 10 wins in 2013, he has earned at least 10 victories in 14 different seasons for the Yankees, surpassing Ford (13) to set a club record.

Pettitte will finish his career as one of 12 players to spend at least 15 seasons with the Yankees. He joins teammates Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera with 19 apiece, Todd Helton (17 with the Rockies) and Paul Konerko (15 with the White Sox) as the only active players to have spent at least 15 seasons with their current team. Pettitte has earned the victory in games in which Rivera also earned a save 72 times, the highest victory-save combination for any pair of pitchers since saves became an official statistic in 1969.

The Louisiana-born, Texas-raised lefthander was a three-time All-Star (1996, 2001, ’10) and the 2001 ALCS Most Valuable Player. He is the only pitcher in major league history to pitch at least 17 seasons (1995-2010, ’12) without having a losing record. Pettitte also posted a winning record in each of the first 13 seasons of his career (1995-2007), the third-longest such streak to begin a career, trailing only Hall of Famers Grover Cleveland Alexander (17) and Cy Young (15).

“The only regret I have in my career is my time with HGH,” Pettitte said in reference to his admission of using the performance-enhancing drug to overcome an injury. “I never tried to cheat the game. I hate it that if any young person would think that I cheated the game. I would like to be remembered as a great teammate who took the ball every day and gave it all I got.”

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