By Sweeny Murti
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All signs are pointing toward Andy Pettitte retiring after 16 years, 240 wins, 19 more postseason wins, and 5 World Series rings. Pettitte told Brian Cashman he was leaning that way when the season ended, told friends the same thing, and now sits at home with little more than a week left in 2010 and still no official word on what his plans are for 2011.
Pettitte is probably enjoying the holidays with this brood in Texas, not letting the weight of his decision or the struggle that goes into making it ruin any part of it. But there is a conflict in Pettitte. He wants to stay home with his family, yet he still has a competitive desire to be with his professional family. Take a listen back to Pettitte in October, standing in the locker room at Rangers Ballpark, moments after the Yankees were eliminated in the ALCS.
The beginning speaks volumes, and doesn’t sound encouraging for a 2011 comeback. “There’s nothing more that I want to achieve in this game, I mean there’s just not.” Yes, that sounds like a man who wants to retire. But the end is just as telling to me. “I don’t want to shut it down and regret, you know, not playing. That’s my biggest fear.”
The feeling I have always gotten about Pettitte is that maybe he felt this decision would have been made for him years ago. The elbow injury in 2004 shocked him in a way that he still expresses surprise that the elbow has healed and doesn’t bother him at all. Its always sounded to me like he just expected the arm to go, that he wouldn’t need to decide when to walk away from the game, that it would just be taken from him at some point in time. But that time hasn’t come.
Pettitte took longer than expected to return from a fairly simple groin injury this year. But it wasn’t the arm. “My ‘bow,” as he sometimes like to call it, is just fine.
Maybe that competitive desire is exhausted. Maybe Andy Pettitte doesn’t have anything left to play for. But if he hasn’t simply said the “R” word yet, then I’m betting he’s not ready to say it. I’m betting that stare we’ve seen so many times still wants to come out.
Pettitte told us last December that he thought about retiring off the 2009 World Championship, but he wasn’t ready to do it. And I don’t think he’s ready now. There are still bullets in Andy Pettitte’s left arm. And I think the gunslinger holding them still has fight in him.
- Sweeny Says: Plan P (newyork.cbslocal.com)