Torre closer to deciding on future
LOS ANGELES -- On the day Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced he is retiring after the season and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre immediately became the subject of speculation about possibly replacing Piniella, Torre seemed less definitive than he has been in the past when asked whether he would consider managing elsewhere next season as opposed to retiring or simply continuing to manage the Dodgers.
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"I'm not sure what I'm going to do," said Torre, adding that he plans to announce whether he will return to the Dodgers next season in the next month to five weeks. "I'm not sure how much I'm going to want to work after this year. That is what I have to figure out for myself, with the help of my family."
Pressed further on the matter, Torre hinted at what he has said more definitively in the past, that this is his final big league managing job however long it lasts. But he still seemed to leave an opening for changing his mind.
"Again, I am not of a mind at this point in time that I will be doing this anywhere other than here," he said.
Torre, who turned 70 on Sunday, is in the final year of a three-year, $13 million contract with the Dodgers. He said last winter he might be interested in returning for one more season, and it is believed that as long as the club doesn't go through an ownership change and as long as an agreement can be reached, Torre will be invited to return if he chooses to do so.
Torre seemed early in spring training to be leaning heavily toward returning, but he backed off as Opening Day got closer and has remained non-committal on the subject ever since. Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly is considered the obvious heir apparent to succeed Torre when he retires, but no one in the organization, including owner Frank McCourt or general manager Ned Colletti, has ever definitively said Mattingly is the manager in waiting.
While Torre said age won't have any bearing in his decision, the Dodgers' results might, though. They took a five-game skid into Tuesday night's game against San Francisco and remain winless since the All-Star break. They were six games behind NL West-leading San Diego, the fourth time they've been that far back.
"If we keep losing, it may not be my choice," Torre said.
In deciding his future, Torre said he'll give weight to how much he still wants to be at the ballpark and travel versus spend more time with his wife and teenage daughter, whose softball games he is forced to miss.
"Stuff like that is more glaring to me now than it's been in the past," he said.
Torre survived prostate cancer in 1999, but he began taking better care of himself earlier in the decade after his brother Frank had a heart attack. He regularly works out.
"I did change some habits," he said. "I still have the energy, knock wood, to do this."
The Dodgers made the playoffs in Torre's first two seasons, losing to Philadelphia both times in the NL Championship Series.
Meanwhile, Torre also was asked Tuesday about comments by Fox Sports analyst Tim McCarver, his friend and former St. Louis Cardinals teammate, during Saturday's Tampa Bay Rays-New York Yankees telecast in which McCarver likened the Yankees' treatment of Torre to the way World War II-era German and Russian generals who had fallen out of favor were treated.
Pointing out that after those generals were executed, they were airbrushed from group pictures, McCarver said the Yankees' exclusion of Torre's spectacularly successful 14-year run as their manager -- most notably, not including him or mentioning him in the ceremony to close down the old Yankee Stadium in 2008 -- amounted to airbrushing Torre's legacy out of the team's storied history.
McCarver later told the New York Daily News that the comparison was inappropriate and that he regretted using it. However, McCarver was quick to say that his underlying point about Torre still applied.
"I know what he was trying to say, and I certainly think he made an apology about the way he put it," Torre said Tuesday. "I know Timmy very well. He is outspoken at times. But he is very aware of history and very aware of people's feelings. He wanted to make a point. I know he wishes he would have gone about it a different way."
The generals comment aside, Torre wouldn't say whether he agreed with McCarver's point.
"I'm not even going there," he said.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.