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March 19, 2012 3:00 am

Out of Left Field: On Baseball Unretirement

5

Matthew Kory

Andy Pettitte's decision to return to baseball was unexpected, but there's nothing surprising about a major leaguer's desire to continue playing.

Andy Pettitte called it an unfinished career this past week, returning to the Yankees on a minor-league contract after missing one season in self-enforced retirement. While Pettitte didn’t perfect unretirement—that’s Brett Favre—he is the most recent player to retire and then think better of it after the fact. He is also far from the first to do so.

You don’t have to go back very far into the pages of baseball history to find other examples. Barely opening the book is enough. This very offseason, Manny Ramirez decided that, at age 40, if he could get that pesky 100-game PED suspension knocked down by 50 games, he’d take a minor-league deal from the going-nowhere A’s. Oakland GM Billy Beane said of the Ramirez deal, “There's little to no commitment. It would be foolish not to [sign him]." Manny has made over $200 million in his career, but he’s willing to endure a 50-game suspension and take a minor-league deal with a losing club to come out of retirement.

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