Andy Pettitte has made retirement contemplation a way of life. This marks the fifth straight offseason in which he hasn't held a firm commitment to pitch the subsequent year, and in each of those, he has considered retirement with various degrees of seriousness.
The 38-year-old lefthander is taking his uncertainty deeper into this 2010-11 break, however, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman firmly reiterated Monday that he's approaching his work as though Pettitte won't return.
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"I've got no updates from Andy to give,'' Cashman said. "He's told me to move forward without him. It has nothing to do with money, leverage, recruiting or any of that. It's whether his heart's into playing or not.
"Maybe in a month, he'll change his mind. I can't predict it. It's not a baseball issue. It's a personal issue. We're moving forward as he requested. He's not in it. He's told me not to rely on him, so I'm focusing on what he's told us."
Some friends of Pettitte, who had an 11-3 record and a 3.28 ERA in 21 starts in 2010, believe he eventually will come back. His family has given its blessing to pitch for the Yankees again, a Pettitte friend told Newsday.
But Pettitte missed nine weeks with a strained left groin, and although he pitched well in the playoffs (a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings), Joe Girardi revealed after the Yankees' American League Championship Series loss to Texas that Pettitte was hindered by back and hamstring problems during the postseason.
An added potential factor is that Pettitte's 2011 figures to be disrupted by his involvement in the U.S. government's perjury case against Roger Clemens. The government regards Pettitte as a "star witness," and Clemens' attorneys surely will attempt to discredit Pettitte.
While Pettitte moves toward a final decision, Cashman said he has nothing hot on the trade or free-agent fronts. The Yankees don't see fits with Tampa Bay for Matt Garza or with the White Sox for Gavin Floyd or Edwin Jackson, and they're not particularly excited by free agents such as Freddy Garcia and Kevin Millwood.
The Yankees and the Mets are among the clubs that have asked for medical information on Garcia, 35, who put up a 4.64 ERA in 157 innings for the White Sox in 2010. Cashman said the Yankees collect medical data on all free agents at the outset of the winter to be prepared in the event they decide to go after a player more seriously.
The Yankees' starting rotation currently stands as CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre, with a group of highly touted youngsters (Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, Hector Noesi and Adam Warren) working their way up the system.
As constituted, the rotation would pale in comparison to those of Boston and Tampa Bay, but the young pitchers could surge to either help the Yankees or serve as trade chips if a frontline starting pitcher from another team becomes available.