This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
It has been nearly a decade since Andy Pettitte’s final big league pitch, wrapping his excellent career with a complete-game victory over the Astros in Houston, a few miles from where the beloved left-hander settled into quiet retirement. A bit too quiet, if he’s completely honest.
Pettitte enjoyed those years of home life, pouring much of his energy and expertise into youth baseball, but he missed the spotlight of The Show. When Pettitte dabbled with coaching for Team USA during the World Baseball Classic, general manager Brian Cashman told Pettitte that if he was interested in an auxiliary coaching position, the Yankees would love to have him.
“I feel like I’ve been in the mix, because I’m kind of always staying in touch with guys and stuff like that,” Pettitte said recently. “But getting me back up here, for me, it’s a great time. My last kid is out, Luke; I’d been coaching high school ball and all summer with him, but he’s gone off to college and it’s kind of freed up my time.”
Pettitte’s assignment and mission, thus, is to provide “a good sounding board” for the Yankees’ pitching staff whenever he’s around. Pettitte occasionally tosses batting practice to the hitters, especially when an opposing left-handed starter is scheduled, and he enjoys watching starters like Gerrit Cole and Clarke Schmidt warm up in the bullpen.
“Just being around the guys, it seems like they’re all excited that I’m around,” Pettitte said. “A lot of guys are asking me a lot of questions. I think since I’ve been through it right here where they’re going through it, and been in their shoes, I think that’s a good thing.”
Pettitte said that he’s under contract with the Yankees for 2024 and plans to increase his time around the club. As for a future full-time role as a pitching coach, Pettitte said that his Team USA experience likely will suffice.
“It was fun, but it was a lot more stressful than I realized it was going to be,” Pettitte said. “As far as wanting to be a pitching coach down the line, I guess you never say never, but I don’t really see that as something that I would really be that interested in doing. I think this [advisory role] is just the perfect taste of it for me, something like this.”
Pettitte accompanied the Yankees for their recent series against the Braves in Atlanta, then traveled with the club to New York for this homestand. He said that during his playing days, it was significant for the active players to have legends like Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry filter through the clubhouse at times.
“I loved it. We loved having those guys there,” Pettitte said. “They were always wonderful. You look at them and you know they’d been through everything you could be through, not only in the big leagues, but here. I think everybody that’s played here knows that the pinstripes are a little different. When you come here, you should know that and you should expect that.
“You have to kind of embrace that. As soon as you do that, I feel like guys have a lot more success.”