LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Brian Cashman received an unexpected call in his hotel room Wednesday from a free- agent lefthander.

Andy Pettitte contacted the Yankees general manager to let him know he still hadn't made a decision, and to express the hope his indecision wasn't hurting the Yankees' offseason plans and that, by the way, getting Cliff Lee would be "awesome."

"He wants to get reassurance from me that he's not somehow messing our plans up," said Cashman, who assured the 38-year-old lefthander that wasn't the case.

In a conversation with Pettitte after the season, Cashman got the feeling that the pitcher was leaning toward retirement.

"If I had to bet at some point, I think he'll play, but he's telling me right now he's leaning the other way," Cashman said Wednesday. "But he just doesn't want to hold us up."

Sources close to Pettitte have told Newsday they believe Pettitte will play and right now is "laying low" until the Lee situation is resolved. Though no one believes Pettitte will play anywhere but New York, if Lee does go to another team, Pettitte, who made $11.75 million last year, would have increased leverage for a bigger salary, given the uncertainty of the rotation beyond CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes.

Money, Cashman said, did not come up in the conversation.

"If he does put himself in play, I'll know," Cashman said. "He's not there yet. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets there because that's what always happens. But this winter's going to take longer if he gets there again. That's all the conversation was . . .

"Andy cares about his family, he cares about the Yankees and I think he cares about himself third."

Cashman said Pettitte did weigh in on Lee.

"He said, 'Man, I hope you guys get Cliff Lee, that would be awesome,' " Cashman said.

With Ken Davidoff

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