TAMPA, Fla. -- When Andy Pettitte picked up the phone and heard Joe Torre's voice at the other end of the line, asking him to fill one of Team USA's roster spots in the World Baseball Classic, the lefty's emotions stirred.
For all of the big moments in Pettitte's career, he has never been able to play for his country, and the invitation was "a big deal" for him. But after discussions with the Yankees, Pettitte decided that he needed to turn Torre down and let the opportunity pass.
"I did want to play in it," Pettitte said. "Obviously after having some conversations with the Yankees, they're not too excited about me playing in it. They just decided against it. As badly as I wanted to play, and as excited as I was about playing, this needed to be the focus."
Pettitte said that he talked to general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi after hearing from Torre, and while both said they would support Pettitte's decision either way, it was clear to Pettitte that the Yankees would prefer he stayed in Spring Training with the Bombers.
"I guess it just came down to not really wanting to take quite that chance, of having something go wrong and then kicking yourself all year long or whatever," Pettitte said. "It was a tough decision. I'm not going to lie to you."
Teams cannot prevent players from participating in the Classic, except for those with pre-existing injury concerns, and the Yankees will have three participants this year -- second baseman Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic), catcher Francisco Cervelli (Italy) and first baseman Mark Teixeira (Team USA).
Pettitte missed nearly three months of last season with a fractured left ankle, and he said that the possibility of suffering an injury in the Classic was one of the dangers in his mind.
"The biggest thing was, man, if this goes bad, if something did happen, I've got to sit there and listen to you [reporters] all year long going, 'Why'd this guy pitch in the WBC?'" Pettitte said.
"So a lot of it was, if something happened, I want to be there for the organization. I want to be there for the team this year. If something goes wrong, I want it to go wrong when I'm playing for this club."