Teammates welcome Pettitte with open arms

Teammates welcome Pettitte with open arms

TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter always maintains that nothing around the Yankees' universe surprises him, and he held firm on that stance Saturday, one day after Andy Pettitte came out of retirement to sign a Minor League contract with the club.

"You don't know anything until it happens," Jeter said. "I know he was itching, thinking about it, but a lot of people say that."

Pettitte followed through, inking a deal that could pay him $2.5 million, and Jeter is among the many Yankees who will be happy to see the left-hander back in pinstripes on Tuesday, when Pettitte is scheduled for a bullpen session at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"It's great," Jeter said. "Andy's done a lot for the organization; all the guys love him. He'll add to our team on the field and off the field."

Alex Rodriguez said that Pettitte -- whose presence restores the "Core Four" to three active members, following Jorge Posada's retirement earlier this year -- will find a very enthusiastic reception waiting for him in the clubhouse.

"The one thing about this game is that it never stops for anybody," Rodriguez said. "Whether someone retires or somebody gets hurt, this great game will continue to move on. We're the fortunate ones that he did miss it. We missed him, and we're very happy to have him back."

Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said he played golf with Pettitte about two or three weeks ago in Tampa, Fla. Pettitte didn't tell Swisher that he was thinking of coming back, but the left-hander did admit that he'd been working out, providing a puzzle piece that Swisher put together after the announcement.

"He's just an icon," Swisher said. "He's everything that you want to be in a ballplayer. Not only does he have the amazing career numbers that he's had throughout his entire career, but he's an amazing man. He's a great father. He's a great husband. All those amazing things that he has, that's somebody you want to look up to."

Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova reviewed videos of Pettitte's great playoff starts before making his postseason debut in 2011, trying to pick up tips on how to focus under pressure. Nova glowed on Saturday as he sat at his locker, mimicking Pettitte's intense glove-up, cap-down stare.

"In the postseason, I got the chance to talk to him a couple of times," Nova said. "He's a good guy. I'm happy to have him back. I got the chance to play with him one time [in 2010] and I've got the chance to see him again."

Pettitte announced his retirement in February 2011, saying he no longer felt the drive to keep pitching and that he wanted to help his wife, Laura, raise their children. Jeter joked that a year away from the game may have changed that.

"He retired mainly because he wanted to spend time with his family, but maybe Mama got a little tired of him a little bit and told him to come back out here and pitch," Jeter said, grinning.