Andy Pettitte's return could increase his chances of getting in...

Andy Pettitte's return could increase his chances of getting in the Hall of Fame. Credit: Getty Images

Andy Pettitte is leaning toward returning to the Yankees in 2011, an industry source told Newsday, and has the support of his family in doing so.

The lefthander, 38, is in the middle of what has become his annual contemplation. He has considered retirement every year since completing a three-year contract with the Astros in 2006.

He still can pitch effectively, however, and the Yankees want him back. So it will surprise no one if Pettitte and the Yankees come to agreement on a one-year contract for what would be his 14th season in the Bronx and 17th overall. He has not yet notified the Yankees of his decision; he typically waits until after Thanksgiving to do so.

In 2010, Pettitte went 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 21 starts. He missed two months with a left groin strain, and though he pitched well in two postseason starts, Joe Girardi revealed after the Yankees' American League Championship Series loss to Texas that back problems hindered Pettitte.

Pettitte earned $11.75 million in 2010, and he's not likely to make much more than that next year, as the Yankees are trying to contain the salaries of their free-agent veterans in order to make room on their payroll for Cliff Lee.

In addition to age and health, Pettitte could face an additional distraction next season. He's sure to be called upon as a star witness in the U.S. government's perjury case against Roger Clemens, with jury selection scheduled to begin on April 5.

When Newsday asked Pettitte in September whether the Clemens hearing would factor into his 2011 decision, he said: "That would have absolutely nothing to do with my decision. Nothing. There's nothing in that situation that I have to do that's not already been done. There's no news coming out. That's nothing. That has no bearing at all."

Pettitte added, "I know I'm not going to be playing at age 40," so if he holds to that, 2011 would represent his final season. He'll turn 40 in 2012.

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