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Girardi: Yankees expect pitcher Mussina to retire

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[November 20, 2008]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Desperate for starting pitchers, the New York Yankees expect to enter next season without 20-game winner Mike Mussina. reported Wednesday that Mussina intends to retire and will make the move official this week. In the report, the Web site cited unidentified major league sources.

Mussina, who turns 40 next month, would become the first pitcher to call it quits following a 20-win season since Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in 1966.

"I have not talked to him lately," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday evening at a Manhattan charity event to benefit his Catch 25 Foundation and Alzheimer's research. "He had led me to believe that that's what was going to happen at the end of the year. I wasn't quite sure in a sense that I believed him because sometimes when you get away from it you really miss it."

Only 30 wins shy of 300, Mussina was 20-9 with a 3.37 ERA for the Yankees this season -- becoming the oldest pitcher in big league history to win 20 games for the first time. The right-hander tossed 200 1-3 innings in 34 starts, rebounding impressively from a disappointing 2007 season that included a career-worst 5.15 ERA.

Mussina has spent 18 years in the majors -- the first 10 with Baltimore followed by eight in New York. He filed for free agency after the World Series.

"Mike will be making a decision on his intentions shortly," agent Arn Tellem said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Given the significance of this to Mike I would hope you can respect his desire to be the author of any such announcement consistent with his own time table. A decision of this magnitude should not be the subject of unconfirmed rumors and speculation. Accordingly, I am not going to make any further comment until Mike has made his final decision."

The report said Mussina delayed his retirement announcement until after baseball's major postseason awards had been handed out. He won his seventh Gold Glove and finished tied for sixth in AL Cy Young Award balloting.

"I know he talked about wanting to be home more. And if he does, I won't be surprised," Girardi said. "But if he comes back, I won't be surprised, either. And I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if that's what he said, (then) changes his mind in January. Because you know it's something that's been such a huge part of his life and his family life, that you miss it."

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A text message sent to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was not immediately returned. Girardi said he hadn't spoken with Mussina since the season ended.

"I know Brian, as far as I know as of today, had not made him an offer," Girardi added. "But we were just kind of waiting to see what he said, and he was on our radar screen as well as many other starting pitchers that are free agents."

After missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993, New York is pursuing several big-name starters on the free-agent market, including CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

Notes: Yankees 2B Robinson Cano said he'll spend a month playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic to prepare for next season, starting Friday. He also said he plans to represent the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

[Associated Press; By MIKE FITZPATRICK]

AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum and Ben Walker contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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