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Teammates full of appreciation for what Andy Pettitte has done

Andy Pettitte of the Yankees looks on from

Andy Pettitte of the Yankees looks on from the dugout during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium. (Sept. 20, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

For most of Andy Pettitte's 18-year career, Derek Jeter was positioned behind him at shortstop. From that vantage point, Jeter got an up-close look at one of the best pitchers in Yankees history.

"We laugh at him because he's always yelling at himself and talking to himself on the mound, probably things you guys aren't even aware of,'' said Jeter, who first teamed with Pettitte in Class A in 1992. "But I'm pretty close to him and it's fun watching him beat himself up because he expects to be perfect. Nobody's perfect, but he has those expectations, and that's the reason he's had so much success over the years.''

Praise for Pettitte flowed from every corner of the Yankees' clubhouse Friday afternoon after the 41-year-old announced that he will retire at season's end.

"He's been a great teammate, mentor, father figure to a lot of us here,'' Phil Hughes said. "We're going to miss him a lot. He's meant a lot to this organization, obviously, not only for what he's done on the field but off the field. The way he's handled himself here and the way he's treated the young guys.''

Pettitte said every start has been a grind. The way he has consistently battled, especially in big games, earned admiration from his teammates.

"Obviously, a guy that always gave his soul for us,'' Mariano Rivera said. "Every game he pitched, he went all-out. He didn't hold anything. Whatever he had that day, he gave it.''

Pettitte will make his final home regular-season start Sunday, which also is the day Rivera will be honored by the team as his brilliant 19-year career draws to a close. Pettitte didn't want to steal the spotlight, but Rivera encouraged him to announce his retirement now rather than wait until after the season.

"I told him don't worry about that,'' Rivera said. "It's like brothers. We came up with this organization at the same time. We've been through good times and bad times, but at the same time, we have enjoyed what we do and now we're going out together, too.''

Pettitte and Rivera joined the organization in the early 1990s, made their major-league debuts in 1995 and were key pieces on five World Series champions. With both set to retire, a huge void will be left.

"It's going to be tough,'' David Robertson said. "It's going to be a new age next year. We're going to have some new faces in here. Those are two legends here at Yankee Stadium. Nobody's going to be able to replace them. All we can do hopefully is the guys we've got fill in and step up and do as best they can.''

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