Teammates full of praise for Pettitte
September, 20, 2013
By Matt Ehalt | ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- When the final out of the Yankees' season is recorded, it will mark the end of Mariano Rivera's and Andy Pettitte's careers, both of which began in pinstripes in 1995.
"[We're] like brothers," Rivera said. "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 [it]. We enjoy what we do and now we're going out together, too."
Rivera and the rest of Pettitte's teammates all spoke highly of the southpaw after he announced his retirement on Friday. Pettitte, who retired once, after the 2010 season, only to return for two final seasons with the Yankees, will potentially make his final start at Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
"I think that it’s great. He’s giving a chance to say things to the fans. He has been a great role model and a great friend and a great teammate and a great pitcher," said Rivera, who will be honored before Sunday's game. "Yeah, he did [retire] once, but I think he didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to the fans and I think this Sunday he will have a chance to do that.’"
Pettitte, who pitched 15 of his 18 seasons with the Yankees, is one of the team's so-called "Core Four" players who helped build the Yankees' dynasty -- Pettitte, Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Pettitte's and Rivera's departures, combined with Posada's retirement, leave Jeter as the last man standing.
"He expects a lot out of himself and he beats himself up a lot," Jeter said of Pettitte. "It's fun watching him beat himself up because he expects himself to be perfect and nobody's perfect, but he has those expectations. And that's the reason he's had so much success throughout the years."
Several teammates talked highly of Pettitte's grittiness, and how he always gave it his all when he was on the mound. Pettitte is 255-152 in his career, and has won a record 19 games in the postseason. Jeter said Pettitte's 8 1/3 shutout innings against Atlanta in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series sticks out the most.
Yankees outfielder Vernon Wells, who opposed Pettitte for most of his career, praised Pettitte for what he does off the field.
"The more you're around him the more you see how genuine and how much he cares about the people around him," Wells said. "It's not about money, it's not about success you've had in this game, it's about being good to people and treating them how they want to be treated and he's the ultimate example of that."
Outfielder Alfonso Soriano, who played with Pettitte for parts of six seasons, said that Pettitte motivated him during his early years with the Yankees. He complimented Pettitte on his work ethic.
"For more than one decade he's one of the best pitchers in this organization. He comes out of this organization and to be able to do what he [did] I think he's a role model for a lot of pitchers and a lot of kids," Soriano said. "He deserves what he got and he's one of the best in the game."