"Last week I thought the chances were 60-40. Now I think they're 50-50 at best,'' said the source, a team executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Asked why he was less hopeful of a return by the 38-year-old Pettitte, the source said, "Another week has gone by with no contact as far as I know.''
At the end of the season, Pettitte -- who started out 11-2 before missing two months of the season with a groin injury -- said he was "leaning towards retirement'' in order to spend more time at his Deer Park, Texas home with his wife and four children.
Since then, there have been sporadic conversations with the Yankees but no substantial change in Pettitte's position. General manager Brian Cashman, who has not returned phone calls or text messages since the news broke last Thursday that the Yankees had come to an agreement with reliever Rafael Soriano, has said he is proceeding as if Pettitte will not be with the team in 2011.
"Andy has told me he's not in play, and that's what I am assuming,'' Cashman said. "Until he tells me otherwise, I'm assuming he's not going to be here.''
Cashman has refused to say when or how often he has spoken to Pettitte this offseason, or to divulge the substance of their conversations. But other team officials have expressed optimism that Pettitte, who in recent years has often wrestled with thoughts of retirement, would change his mind once again as the start of the season drew nearer. But now, with pitchers and catchers scheduled to report on Feb. 14, that hope appears to be fading.
"My gut still says he's going to come back,'' the source said. "I just can't imagine someone who pitched so well last year, with a chance to win another world championship and maybe even get to the Hall of Fame, not wanting to pitch again this year. But I felt stronger about it last week than I do this week.''
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.