Suddenly, the Yankees’ Core Four is turning back the clock.
Andy Pettitte signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees Friday, a little more than one year after announcing his retirement.
The 39-year-old left-hander, who retired before last season after 16 years in the big leagues, will get $2.5 million in the deal, according to multiple reports.
Pettitte seemed ready to walk away from baseball last year at age 38. By returning, he will have a chance to burnish his Hall of Fame candidacy.
As recently as the 2010 season, Pettitte demonstrated that he can have success when healthy. He went 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 129 innings.
After a one-year layoff from baseball, Pettitte began showing his face around the Yankees’ spring training facilities in Tampa last month, telling reporters he "just came to hang out."
Pettitte will rejoin longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, who has hinted that the 2012 season may be his last. Jorge Posada, the other member of the Yankees’ Core Four, retired during the offseason.
Because he is signing so late in spring training, it’s highly doubtful that Pettitte will make the Opening Day roster. But as with Pedro Martinez and the 2009 Phillies, Pettitte could make an impact if he’s ready to pitch midway through the season.
Ironically, the Yankees had a greater need for Pettitte last year, when he didn’t pitch. Now they have good depth among starting pitchers, with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman felt strongly enough about his current group of starters that he dealt A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh on the eve of spring training.