The arm felt strong. His family was on board for at least one more year and he felt there was a real chance of adding another World Series title to his collection.
With nothing to hold him back, the lefty agreed to a one-year deal with the Yankees worth $12 million on Wednesday, putting baseball's biggest postseason winner back in pinstripes.
"I think we're good enough to go all the way, I really do," Pettitte said on a conference call. "I'm at the point where, if I didn't feel like we had a chance to win it deep down, I wouldn't do this. I feel like we've got a certain group of guys that are still there and that know how to win and know how to get it done, and we can go do that."
The five-time World Series champion turns 41 in June. He retired after the 2010 season to spend more time at home but then decided to come back this year -- while working as an instructor during spring training -- and signed a contract guaranteeing him $2.5 million.
His new contract includes several award bonuses: $1 million for winning the Cy Young Award, $1 million for World Series MVP and $500,000 for league championship series MVP.
Pettitte went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts. He missed almost three months because of a broken lower left leg, sustained when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Cleveland's Casey Kotchman on June 27.
"I definitely think that if I would have pitched a full season and thrown 200 innings, that I definitely wouldn't feel as fresh and physically feel as good as I do right now," Pettitte said. "Obviously, I feel like that helped lead me to a quick decision."
Pettitte's signing was the Yankees' second move to solidify their rotation in about a week. New York gave Hiroki Kuroda a $15 million, one-year contract to return.
The AL East champions are set to start 2013 with the same rotation as last season: CC Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova or David Phelps.
Next up for general manager Brian Cashman could be a contract for 43-year-old closer Mariano Rivera, who is determined to come back after tearing a knee ligament in May while shagging flies during batting practice.
A reliable No. 2 starter throughout his career, Pettitte is 245-142 with the Yankees and Houston in 17 major league seasons. He is the winningest pitcher in postseason history at 19-11.
A member of the "Core Four" along with Derek Jeter, Rivera and Jorge Posada, Pettitte helped the Yankees win World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009.
The Yankees designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment to make room for Pettitte on the 40-man roster. The 33-year-old Whiteside was claimed off waivers from San Francisco on Nov. 5.
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