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Yankees' Andy Pettitte to retire at season's end

Andy Pettitte looks on from the bench during

Andy Pettitte looks on from the bench during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. (April 14, 2013) Credit: Mike Stobe

Andy Pettitte says he is done, and that this time he really means it.

The 41-year-old lefthander, third on the Yankees' wins list (behind Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing) and the major leagues' all-time leader in postseason victories with 19, announced his retirement, effective at season's end, Friday afternoon.

He's the third member of the club's Core Four to retire in the last three years, joining Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, also in the final year of his career.

The move, formally announced in a news conference, surprised few in the organization, many of whom Pettitte made aware of his plans as the season wore on. And Pettitte, 10-10 with a 3.93 ERA in 2013, knew well before then.

"Coming into the season, I knew this was probably going to be it, and there was nothing that went on during the season that was changing my mind,'' Pettitte said at a packed news conference attended at the start by Rivera, who announced in March that this will be his last season.

Posada retired after the 2011 season, meaning that only Derek Jeter, 39, coming off an injury-plagued season, will remain of the quartet that helped lead the Yankees to four titles from 1996-2000 and added a fifth ring in 2009.

The times, and faces, are changing for the franchise, which is staring at some of its starkest challenges in years, among them an aging roster, a farm system currently producing little and the stated goal of cutting payroll by next season to avoid luxury-tax penalties. Pettitte acknowledged not wanting to go forward in those circumstances, saying it did "play into it.''

The season's physical grind and the desire to spend time with his family were the significant factors. He and his wife, Laura, have four children. "The family obviously is a big part of this decision. I'm ready to be home again,'' he said. "But the biggest thing is I'm just done. Mentally and physically, I'm just done.''

Pettitte had retired during a news conference after the 2010 season, saying then much of what he said Friday. He sat out 2011 but kept in shape at home, frequently throwing bullpen sessions. He signed a minor- league deal with incentives late in spring training in 2012 and signed a one-year deal for $12 million for 2013.

So why not take a month or two after this season just to make sure he's ready for home life? "Because I don't need to,'' he said. "I know I'm done.''

Well, not quite. Pettitte, who is 3-1 with a 2.02 ERA in his last eight starts, will make his final home start Sunday, the same day the club will honor Rivera. As the schedule gods would have it, his last career start will be back home in Houston next Friday or Saturday.

With this weekend being about Rivera, Pettitte said he hesitated to hold a news conference Friday; his preference was a conference call the day after the season. But when the two had lunch together this week, Rivera persuaded him to change his mind -- and now Pettitte and the fans will be able to show their appreciation for each other. "He thinks it's going to make the day even better,'' Pettitte said.

Both seem to find it appropriate that they'll be honored the same day. Rivera has saved a victory for Pettitte 72 times, the most for any combination since saves became an official stat in 1969, according to Elias.

"I wouldn't have nowhere near the wins I have without him,'' Pettitte said. "It's very special to be linked with Mo.''

Pettitte is 255-152 with a 3.86 ERA in 18 years with the Yankees and Astros and 218-126 with a 3.95 ERA in 15 years with the Yankees. He is 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA in the postseason, and all of those numbers make him a long-shot Hall of Fame candidate.

"I don't think about the Hall of Fame unless someone asks me. I don't,'' said Pettitte, who said his one career regret was his use of HGH that came to light in the 2007 Mitchell Report, something that could hurt him with Hall voters. "I am very, very thankful and blessed that people will even bring up my name in that conversation. Do I feel like I've dominated this sport as a pitcher? I don't. Every outing for me, I feel like, has been an absolute grind, to tell you the truth.''

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