Joe Torre: Yankees have concerns

Updated: January 25, 2013, 8:25 AM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees would prefer not to see Andy Pettitte pitch in any uniform but their own.

And that includes the uniform of Team USA.

Ten days ago, it was widely assumed Pettitte would be reunited with his former manager, Joe Torre, for the upcoming World Baseball Classic after it was reported that Pettitte would be on Torre's Team USA roster.

But Thursday night, speaking outside Chelsea Piers in Manhattan before the annual fundraiser for his Safe at Home foundation, Torre cast considerable doubt that the reunion would take place after all.

"(The Yankees) have expressed concerns because of the injuries he has had," Torre said. "So we're thinking about it and we're talking about it. We don't have to make a decision until Feb. 20. So we have some wiggle time here. We'll see what happens."

Torre said he and Pettitte have been discussing the possibility of the 40-year-old left-hander pitching for him this March for about a year now, starting with a conversation in the trainer's room at Yankee Stadium last season.

"He didn't exactly ask, but it sounded like he was curious," Torre said. "So I asked him if he was interested and he said, 'Am I too old?' And I said, 'Not if you feel good enough to climb the hill.' And that was it. We stayed in touch. He was interested in doing it, and certainly if he's interested in doing it, we're interested in having him."

Torre said the two have spoken about it several times since, most recently "three or four days ago," but in the interim, Torre said the Yankees -- he did not specify who exactly he had spoken with -- had expressed reservations about Pettitte pitching in the three-week tournament, which for Team USA begins March 8 in Phoenix against Mexico. The Yankees begin playing spring training games Feb. 23.

"By the time we get the starting pitchers they probably will have pitched twice in spring training, so their pitch count will be in the 60-65 pitch range," Torre said.

Asked why the Yankees would object to Pettitte pitching for him when he likely would be on a regular rotation for them anyway, Torre said, "Well, I suppose because as opposed to trying to get in shape, you're pitching trying to win a game. It's a little different, I guess."

Pettitte returned to the Yankees last May after a 19-month retirement, and was pitching exceptionally well until he suffered a broken ankle on a comebacker in his ninth start June 27. He did not return until Sept. 19, and wound up pitching in just 12 games. He finished at 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA.

"For a guy who came to spring training as a celebrity instructor, he sure came a long way," Torre said.

But while Torre said he would make the final call on whether or not Pettitte pitched for Team USA, he made it clear that he would not pressure the pitcher, or, it seemed, go against the wishes of the Yankees.

"I'll probably discuss it with the Yankees a little more just to see," he said. "To me, the most important thing is to make everyone comfortable with what's going on. I certainly don't want to put any players in a stressful situation because that's not what we're doing here."

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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