"The New York Yankees committed an awful lot of money to me and put it in my hands, gave me a player option and trusted me with that option," Pettitte told KRIV-TV. "It probably wouldn't be real honorable for me not to do anything other than if I shut it down, shut it down or go back and play for the New York Yankees."
Pettitte went 15-9 with a 4.05 ERA in 34 starts and two relief appearances for the Yankees in 2007. He tied for first in the American League in starts with seven other pitchers and ranked ninth in the circuit with 215 1/3 innings pitched, speaking late in the season about how strong his left elbow felt.
Pettitte's start in Game 2 of the AL Division Series opposite Cleveland's Fausto Carmona -- even though it came in a loss at Jacobs Field -- has been referred to as one of the grittiest efforts of his career. He would have been Joe Torre's choice to pitch the decisive ALDS Game 5 if the Yankees had forced the series to go that far.
Pettitte returned to New York in 2007 on a $16 million contract after reuniting with several members of the 1996 Yankees at an offseason reunion dinner, and he often cited Torre's influence as a major reason why he came back.
Now Torre is gone, leaving the organization after a 12-year run and potentially on his way to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pettitte said he was happy for the new Yankees manager -- former batterymate Joe Girardi -- but said that he would not let the managerial change influence his decision.
"It won't," Pettitte told the television station. "I've got to figure out in my own mind exactly what I want to do. I know a lot of speculation is out there as far as with [Torre] losing the job and stuff like that -- what effect it would have -- but the Yankees gave me the contract. That's the organization that has committed to me, and it won't have any bearing."
In a conference call with reporters announcing his hiring on Tuesday, Girardi said that the Yankees are hopeful to field a team including not only Pettitte, but also free agents Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.
"Obviously, they're important Yankees," Girardi said. "They have meant so much to the organization. All three of them had very good years, and they're very good players. I think everyone would like to see them in a Yankees uniform next year."
Pettitte said that the Yankees lined up three strong candidates in Girardi, Don Mattingly and Tony Pena, all of whom would have made good choices.
"The three guys they interviewed, it would have been great for any of them," Pettitte said. "They are all great men. I don't think they could have went wrong with anybody they picked.
"I played with Joe. He's caught me plenty. He's a great baseball man. He's going to do a good job for them."
Pettitte has a lifetime record of 201-113 in a Major League career that began with the Yankees in 1995. He has posted a winning record and made at least 15 starts in each of his 13 seasons in the big leagues, and he earned his 200th career victory on Sept. 19 vs. the Orioles. Pettitte's 164 wins as a Yankee tie him with Mel Stottlemyre for sixth place on the club's all-time list.