NEW YORK -- The chants, guttural and growing in intensity, had already worked their magic once before on Thursday to summon Mariano Rivera from the bullpen in the eighth inning. Now they were trying to draw Andy Pettitte out for his final Yankee Stadium moment.
Pettitte heard his name rhythmically echoing throughout the ballpark, but he figured that his ovations had already come: on Sunday, his final Stadium start, and again this week in a pregame ceremony. Pettitte had wanted a chance to thank the fans, and he had done so.
But the fans insisted upon one more ovation, and they had an important supporter in the visiting dugout. Pettitte soon realized that Rays manager Joe Maddon was holding his team back from taking the field for the bottom of the ninth inning, refusing to do so until Pettitte acknowledged the crowd.
"The guys on our bench started saying, 'You've got to go out,' and, 'the Rays aren't going to go out,'" Pettitte said. "I looked over at their bench, and they were all saying, 'Get out there or we're not going out.' It was just great."
The ovation capped an emotional evening in which Pettitte and Derek Jeter went to the mound to retrieve the baseball from Rivera in the all-time saves leader's final Yankee Stadium appearance.
"I don't need anything else," Pettitte said. "I just feel so fortunate to have been a part of this weekend and the last few days here. It's been incredible."
Pettitte has announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the season, and his final career start will come on Saturday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros will likely have a small ceremony to honor Pettitte, who pitched in Houston from 2004-06, but Pettitte said that he has already received the closure that he was unable to achieve when he retired for the first time after the 2010 season.
"For me, [Sunday] was incredible and great closure for me," Pettitte said. "This is kind of a bonus."
Girardi: Yankees expect A-Rod to be in Houston
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez "does not have permission" to skip the season-ending trip to Houston, according to manager Joe Girardi.
Citing a source, the New York Daily News reported on Thursday that Rodriguez may not travel for the club's final three games, against the Astros, instead remaining in New York to prepare for the appeal of his 211-game suspension, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 30.
General manager Brian Cashman called the report "a false story."
"We expect our players to be there," Girardi said. "If they're able bodies, we expect them to be there. I'll see if he's available to me tonight, but there's no indication that he won't be."
Rodriguez was not in the starting lineup on Thursday and did not speak to reporters before the game. He was removed for a pinch-hitter in Wednesday's 8-3 loss to the Rays, and Girardi said the move was health-related; Rodriguez played through calf and hamstring injuries while the Yankees chased a postseason berth.
Girardi not ready to discuss future with the Yankees
NEW YORK -- On Thursday, as he completes his sixth season managing the Yankees, Joe Girardi is not prepared to discuss his future with the club.
Girardi's contract, a three-year deal worth approximately $9 million, expires after the season. The Yankees have expressed interest in retaining Girardi, whose name has been linked to the Cubs and Nationals in published reports.
"That's something for the offseason," Girardi said. "Let's get through these four days, and then I can maybe start to address those questions. I've said many times: I've really enjoyed being here as a manager, a coach, a manager, a player, a broadcaster.
"I love my time here, but that's not something that's handled in-season, and I'll wait until the offseason."
Girardi entered Thursday's game with a 561-407 record at the helm of the Yankees. He has given little thought to the idea that Thursday could mark his final Yankee Stadium game as the Bombers' manager.
"I kind of did that one other time," he said. "I remember bringing my son [Dante] to the ballpark here, to the old ballpark, thinking it might be my last time ever in Yankee Stadium. Lo and behold, I was there a lot more years after that. I don't necessarily think like that anymore."
• Andy Pettitte will make the final start of his Major League career on Saturday against the Astros, not Friday as was originally announced. The starters for Friday and Sunday have yet to be determined.
• Girardi had little reaction to an ESPN.com report stating that second baseman Robinson Cano could be trying to land a 10-year, $305 million deal in free agency this winter.
"That's not something that I discuss," Girardi said. "You never know the truth of some of the reports that are out there. I'm glad I don't necessarily have to worry about that kind of money."
• The Yankees will finish the season with their fewest wins since the strike-shortened 1994 season (79-65), and their fewest victories in a 162-game season since 1992 (76-86).
• On this date in 1961, Roger Maris hit his 60th home run of the season -- tying Babe Ruth's Major League record -- off the Orioles' Jack Fisher in a 3-2 win.