Pettitte Ends Retirement with Yankees vs Mets Spring Training 2012 Debut
One of the most successful postseason pitchers of all-time is ready to end his very brief one-year retirement. At 39 years of age, future Hall of Fame LHP Andy Pettitte is ready to show what he has left in the old tank on Wednesday’s Grapefruit League finale between the New York Yankees and NY Mets.
First pitch for this Spring Training game is slated for 12:05 PM ET from Tampa’s Steinbrenner Field live on MLB-Network.
The 5-time World Series champ has already thrown two simulated games since signing a one-year minor league deal with the Yankees on March 16, but calls Wednesday’s appearance a huge step in his return. If everything goes as planned, the Baton Rouge (Louisiana) native is expected to earn a spot on the team and could be back in pinstripes as early as May.
Pettitte, who’s projected to pitch just one inning tomorrow, hopes to bring balance and stability to a Yankees starting rotation that includes all righties and just one lefty in: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and potentially Michael Pineda — who will start the season on the DL.
“I bounced back pretty good after that last one, so we feel like an inning would be good tomorrow,” Pettitte said after a Tuesday workout. “I realized I feel good enough to pitch.”
Earlier in the week, Bronx Bombers manager Joe Girardi was reluctant to commit to when we might see his old teammate in action this spring. Girardi, who caught the big lefty in his years as a Yankee catcher, spoke to reporters about the potential return of No.46 to pinstripes and his progress thus far.
“We’ll see how he feels in the next couple days and we’ll make an evaluation,” he said. “There isn’t anything that would tell me we need to take a step backwards, or that he’s not going to be on a schedule. I still want to ask him and see how he feels when I talk to him (today) or (tomorrow).”
When/if Pettitte is able to get in shape to pitch at the Major League level, the Yanks would add him to the MLB roster and he would earn $2.5 million in the upcoming season. In his final year, Pettitte looked as good as ever, finishing with an 11-3 record and earning a trip to his third All-Star Game. Between New York and Houston (Astros), his lifetime totals for wins and loses stands at 240-138.
Pettitte is one of the most beloved Yankees of all time despite the fact that he’s not a “Yankee Lifer.” And although he would be returning to a place where many familiar faces remain — such as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez — there will be one guy he’s sure to miss dearly: longtime Yankees’ catcher Jorge Posada, who retired earlier this year.
Pettitte and Posada worked closely as teammates from 1995-2003 and again from 2007-2010 and won many championships together. When No.20 decided that he would rather retire than put on a different uniform, last January, MLB’s all-time postseason wins (19) leader issued the following statement:
“Jorge was obviously one of the heart and soul pieces of all those championships with us. Everyone brings their own style to the table but Jorge played with so much fire and intensity, and you have to have all the different mixes of personalities on a team to be able to win the way we did. The intensity that he brought on a daily basis to the field was just amazing to watch. He was a wonderful teammate — one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever played with — and a great friend and a great person.
“The fans loved Jorge because of the passion he played with. He didn’t try to hide it, and he didn’t make up excuses. He’s a stand-up guy, and if he wasn’t able to get it done, he would say ‘I didn’t get it done.’ He handled all the victories and all the success with class and never made excuses for anything. Fans love that. They love to see you be real and passionate. When you’re like that in New York, you’re going to be loved, that’s for sure.”