Yankees Want Andy Pettitte Back Next Season

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wants pitcher Andy Pettitte to stay with the team for the 2009 season. 

The 36-year-old left-hander said near the end of the season that he'd likely want to remain with the Yankees, and he confirmed that decision Tuesday in an interview with a Houston television station.

"It's great to hear," Cashman said Wednesday at the general managers meetings. "Obviously, Andy is a guy you'd like to have back."

With Pettitte's status uncertain and Mike Mussina leaning toward retirement, Cashman's priority is starting pitching. Pettitte likely would have to agree to a cut from his $16 million salary last season, when he went 14-14 with a 4.54 era this year -- his highest era since 1999. Pettitte was 2-7 with a 6.23 era in his final 11 starts, and he missed his last turn because of a sore pitching shoulder. End-of-season tests failed to reveal significant issues. 

"We're pretty comfortable about where he's at physically," Cashman said. 

Phil Hughes, New York's top young pitcher, remains of interest to other teams despite an injury-filled season during which he went 0-4 with a 6.62 era in just eight major league starts. 

"He's a significant piece for us as we move forward," Cashman said. "But that doesn't mean he can't be traded, either. He continues to be a guy that gets asked about quite often, so he must being doing something right despite the '08 season."

With the Yankees' streak of playoff appearances ending at 13, Cashman has much work to do during the off season. Asked about New York's defense, he answered playfully. “Team defense isn't a strength of ours," he said. "Last year, our rotation wasn't, and our team defense isn't. Team speed isn't. Can I stop?"

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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