Is Andy Pettitte Ready? Build-Up To The New Deal And Lingering Questions

 @JaceyFortin on March 16 2012 5:48 PM
New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte announced his retirement last year at the Yankee Stadium in New York.
New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte announced his retirement last year at the Yankee Stadium in New York. Reuters

Lefty pitcher Andy Pettitte is back in the game, according to a press release from the New York Yankees.

Pettitte, 39, now has a one-year minor-league contract and an invitation to spring training. He can anticipate a $2.5 million deal if he is added to the major league roster. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman told ESPN that the deal includes no incentives.

Pettitte had retired after the 2010 season, turning down a $12 million offer, because he didn't have the hunger, the drive to stay on as starting pitcher.

But old habits apparently die hard. Cashman said that late last year, the 13-season Yankees veteran expressed interest in rejoining the club.

So Cashman offered Pettitte upwards of $10 million to start right away. An out-of-shape Pettite declined, asking for some time to work out. But after Cashman acquired pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees funds were running too low for him to extend his initial offer to Pettitte.

The hopeful pitcher didn't quit. He never stopped working out, and even pitched for the Yankees as an instructor. In February, he told Cashman again that he was still interested in coming back to the team.

Ahead of last weekend's spring training match-up with the Atlanta Braves, Pettitte was there pitching for batting practice. ESPN reports that he pulled Cashman aside to speak with him at length in the batting cages.

After a series of meetings, the deal ended up at the desk of Hal Steinbrenner. He approved the $2.5 million agreement on Friday morning.

So now what? The Yankees already have a crowded lineup of starting pitchers: Koruda, Pineda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and CC Sabathia. But Pettitte brings a uniquely impressive record; he has 240 career victories and a 3.88 ERA in 479 starts. He boasts the most postseason victories of any other pitcher.

Then again, he is almost 40 and out of practice. It remains to be seen whether Pettitte can live up to his former glory. 

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