Pettitte has torn flexor tendon

PHILADELPHIA -- Andy Pettitte's lost season came to an end
Wednesday when the Houston Astros announced the pitcher would have
surgery on his troublesome left elbow next week.

"It was getting to the point where the guys were focused on
whether I could make it through the inning, much less get through
the year," Pettitte said in a conference call. "I'm in unfamiliar
territory. This is extremely disappointing."

Pettitte was put on the 15-day disabled list for the third time
this season. Dr. James Andrews will do the surgery next Tuesday to
repair a torn flexor tendon.

"There were a couple of times where I had to leave the bench
because I could not stomach watching what he was doing and knowing
how bad he was hurting," teammate Roger Clemens said.

Pettitte, 32, will start rehabilitation the day after surgery
and be in a brace for up to six weeks. He will resume throwing
12-to-16 weeks after the procedure.

On Tuesday, the Astros pushed Pettitte's start back two days
until Saturday. But the former All-Star realized his elbow wasn't
right in his bullpen session on Monday.

"At that point, the reality set in that I had pushed it as far
as I was going to be able to push it," Pettitte said. "I think
throughout all of this that I was pretty much the only one who was
not facing up to the reality that I might not make it through the

"This organization and my teammates had talked to me about
shutting it down over the last two weeks, but I felt I was going to
be able to make it."

A two-time 21-game winner, Pettitte joined the hometown Astros
in December, leaving the New York Yankees as a free agent to sign a
$31.5 million, three-year contract.

But Pettitte tore a tendon in his elbow in his Houston debut -- while batting, of all things -- and has not been right all season.

"We knew eventually Andy's situation, this was going to be the
end result," Clemens said. "Hopefully, he'll be back as strong as
ever and better than new."

Pettitte was 6-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 15 starts for the Astros,
who have had a disappointing season after coming in with high
expectations. Even with Roger Clemens joining the rotation in the
winter and the midseason acquisition of All-Star center fielder
Carlos Beltran, the Astros fell out of the NL Central race and
faded in the wild-card chase.

"It's very disappointing. I feel very bad for him. I know how
hard he worked," Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell said. "I'm
thoroughly impressed in how he went about his business despite his
problems. It showed a tremendous amount of heart."

The Astros plan to recall right-hander Brandon Backe from
Triple-A New Orleans. He will join the team Friday in Houston.

Backe, 26, will make his first major league start on Saturday
against the Chicago Cubs after 61 career relief appearances.

"It's obviously a huge loss," Astros left fielder Craig Biggio
said. "He's been battling all season. You have to give him a lot
of credit for trying to suck it up with a major injury. At least he
knows he can get it fixed and be ready for next year."