Pettitte ends MLB career

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 12:45 PM ET

NEW YORK -- Saying his heart was not fully committed to another season, Andy Pettitte officially announced his retirement after 16 years as a big league pitcher.

Pettitte spent 13 seasons with the New York Yankees, helping the storied franchise to five World Series titles and two other American League pennants while finishing as the club's third-winningest pitcher.

The 38-year-old veteran, who also pitched three seasons with the Houston Astros and completed his career with 240 wins, had wrestled with retirement the past couple of years. He indicated after an injury-plagued 2010 season, which ended with a loss to the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series, that it would likely be his last.

"When I left Arlington Stadium last year, I felt like I was done," Pettitte said Friday during a news conference at Yankee Stadium. "I just felt like I should make sure.

"My arm feels great, my body feels great. I've been working out extremely hard the past three weeks. My heart's not where it needs to be. My heart is not fully sold out to do this again."

Pettitte said he went back and forth on the decision after Christmas, even going so far as to tell his wife that he was going to return for one more year, but he ultimately felt it was time to call it quits and spend more time with his family in Texas.

"I didn't have the hunger, the drive that I felt like I needed. I don't know how to explain it, but it was just different," Pettitte said about making the decision. "When I thought about packing my bags and leaving, it didn't feel right."

The Louisiana native said he considered retiring after the 2008 season, but the lure of pitching in the new Yankee Stadium was a factor in returning for 2009. Then, after winning a fifth World Series title in 2009, the chance to repeat played a role in coming back again.

"I want to thank the Yankee organization, all the great, great players I've had the chance to play with," Pettitte remarked. "We had a chance to win a championship every year, and that's been fun."

Pettitte was a three-time All-Star with the Yankees, including 2010 when he got off to an 11-2 start. A groin injury, however, sidelined him for two months before he returned late in the season. He finished the campaign with a record of 11-3 and a 3.28 ERA in 21 starts.

"It's tough when you feel like you can still do something physically," Pettitte said. "It was a tough decision to come to, but it was the right one."

Selected by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1990 draft, Pettitte made his big league debut in 1995 and was 12-9 as a rookie. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting that season, then was 21-8 in 1996 and finished second in the AL Cy Young balloting.

The Yankees won their first of four World Series titles in a five-year span in '96 and captured the AL pennant in 2001 and 2003. Pettitte was 21-8 in 2003, but left New York as a free agent for his hometown Astros.

After three seasons -- and another World Series appearance -- with Houston, Pettitte returned to the Bronx in 2007. He helped the Yankees to another World Series title in 2009, earning the win in each of the series-clinching games that postseason.

"Being able to come back here [after leaving Houston], to be able to come back here and win another [World Series]. This last one was extremely special," he fondly recalled when asked about his proudest moments.

Pettitte is the winningest pitcher in postseason history with a mark of 19-10 and a 3.83 ERA in 42 starts. He has pitched in the World Series eight times and owns a record of 5-4 with a 4.06 ERA in 13 Fall Classic starts.

As a Yankee, Pettitte ranks third with 203 wins, behind only Whitey Ford's 236 wins and Red Ruffing's 231.

He is considered one of the Yankees' "Core Four," the group that includes fellow champions Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. He is the first of that group to call it quits.

"I don't think they were shocked," Pettitte said when asked what the other three had thought of his retirement. "They wanted me to be happy. It was never 'hey let's go.' It was 'do what's right for your family, do what's right in your heart.'"

The Yankees are left with a huge hole in their starting staff, as only CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett are locks to begin the season as part of the club's rotation.

It was speculated that the Yankees' inability to land free agent Cliff Lee might persuade Pettitte to return for one more year and it did weigh on his mind.

"When they didn't get [Cliff Lee], that's when I really started working out," Pettitte stated. "I felt a huge obligation and a tremendous amount of pressure to come back."

However, he eventually decided not to come back and said he doesn't envision a mid-season return if the desire overwhelms him.

"I am not going to play this season," Pettitte firmly said. "I can tell you that 100%, but you can never say never. I do not plan on pitching again. I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life and figure out what that is. I'll have one eye on the New York Yankees and see that they're doing."

Despite all the accolades, Pettitte will also be forever linked to using human growth hormone. He was named in the Mitchell Report, the December 2007 document which detailed performance-enhancing drug use in baseball, and admitted to briefly using HGH in 2002 while trying to recover from an elbow injury.

Because of the admission and his closeness with former teammate Roger Clemens, Pettitte became a central figure in Clemens' perjury case that is expected to go to trial this summer, but he said that issue did not affect his decision.

"That has not had any effect. I mean zero," Pettitte confirmed. "I would never let that interfere with a life decision for me and my family."

Pettitte completed his career with a record of 240-138 and a 3.88 earned run average in 489 games, all but 10 as a starter.


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