FORT MYERS, Fla. -- News that veteran lefty Andy Pettitte had ended his retirement and agreed to return to pitch for the New York Yankees Friday was met some degree of scepticism by the Red Sox.
"I don't think he's coming back to where he was -- call it a hunch,'' said manager Bobby Valentine when asked about the news. "But he's a good pitcher. I always respected Andy; always thought he was a borderline Hall of Famer. Add someone like that to your staff, you're doing good.''
Earlier, Valentine joked about Pettitte's comeback, playfully asking: "Is he going to be a starter? Or just come in to pick people off?''
That was a joking reference to Pettitte's notorious pickoff move to first base, which for years was one of the most effective in the game.
Said David Ortiz: "It doesn't make any sense -- stop and then come back? You're going to be behind, from what I see. I don't know. Everybody's got their reasons.''
Asked if pitchers might fare better than position players following a year off, Ortiz said: "It's not easy for anybody. This ain't an easy game to play . . . What are we, robots or something? We have the ability to play the game but that doesn't mean that we're always going to be on top of our game, forever. You know what I'm saying?
"The Yankees are giving him the chance to come back and perform because they think he can come back and perform. But he's not 25 anymore. So the Yankees also know they're running the risk of him coming back and not performing well. He took a year off and he's what . . . almost 40 now? (NOTE: Pettitte will turn 40 in June.) All of that is going against him.''
Asked if more players might adapt the same strategy of retiring briefly only to return, Ortiz said: "I won't. I'm going to play and when I stop, I stop.''