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Sheets waits as hurlers begin to sign

Sheets waits as hurlers begin to sign

There are still plenty of teams looking for starting pitching, and that is good news for free-agent pitcher Ben Sheets.

But the New York Yankees don't appear to be one of them.

The Yankees formally introduced CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, two big free-agent pitchers they recently signed to upgrade their rotation. New York is still looking for one more starter to complete its rotation, and there was some discussion about turning to Sheets.

But it appears that the Bombers are set on re-signing Andy Pettitte.

"He's still excited about coming back," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "He was very excited about the additions to the club, and he's excited about coming back."

Pettitte, 36, met with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman last week in Houston after the Winter Meetings. If the Yankees can't sign Pettitte, they might jump in on Sheets. But Pettitte is clearly their first choice.

"Andy's a free agent," Cashman said at Thursday's press conference. "We'd like to have Andy back, and I know he'd like to come back."

Sheets, who turned down arbitration, is a free agent after going 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA over 31 starts for the Brewers last season. He finished the season with a strained elbow, and that may be hurting his value. Otherwise, he probably would have been at the top of many teams' shopping lists.

The Braves may have some interest in Sheets on a one-year contract after losing out on Burnett to the Yankees and shortstop Rafael Furcal to the Dodgers. But they have yet to engage Sheets' agent, Casey Close.

Hot Stove
The Rangers have expressed interest, but they have yet to make an offer, and club officials still say they won't be big players in the free-agent market. The Orioles and the Nationals have expressed interest in signing at least one or two starting pitchers, but their focus has been on free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Other teams looking for starters include the Dodgers, Rockies, Indians, Pirates, Tigers and Blue Jays. The Brewers also have holes after losing Sabathia and Sheets. Sabathia is gone. Sheets is still available.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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