TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees didn't outright tell Andy Pettitte not to pitch in the World Baseball Classic.
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"They didn't want me to play," Pettitte said Wednesday. "They weren't crazy about it. And I understand it. It's understandable."
Understandable because Pettitte, who turns 41 in June, is a linchpin for what is considered one of the Yankees' strengths this season: the rotation.
Pettitte spent June 28 to Sept. 19 on the disabled list after a ground smash by the Indians' Casey Kotchman broke his left ankle. The Yankees have no desire to take a chance on a similar accident occurring next month in the WBC.
"They were supportive, [saying] if you decide to do this, obviously we're going to support you," Pettitte said. "But they were obviously hoping it was something I wouldn't do."
But as he spoke about the situation, it was clear he saw it as an opportunity lost.
"For me, it was a big deal," Pettitte said. "I've done a lot of things in this game; I've never had a chance to play for my country. I don't know if that sounds corny or whatever, but it was a big deal to me."
Pettitte understood the concerns, though, which ultimately swayed him not to play for the United States and his former manager, Joe Torre.
"The biggest thing was, man, if this goes bad, if something did happen . . . " Pettitte said, meaning an injury. "I want to be there for the organization, I want to be there for the team this year. And if something goes wrong, I want it to go wrong when I'm playing for this club."
Not that Pettitte, who went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts last year, anticipates anything other than a top-flight season from himself.
"I expect to make every start, I really do," he said. "I don't know what people expect, but I feel great. I didn't have any problems. My arm was feeling great, my body was feeling great before I broke my leg. I feel like I can do what I normally do. I feel like I'm better now than I was at age 30.
"I wouldn't have come back if I didn't feel like I could do what I've been doing. That's what I expect. I don't know what that adds up to. I hope to throw 200 innings, make all my starts. Heck, I want to win 20 games."