Joe Torre would consider Mets job
NEW YORK -- After coming full circle with the Yankees in the Bronx, Joe Torre said there is "no question" he would consider a return to Queens.
On Monday night Torre came back to Yankee Stadium for the first time since his glorious, four-championship run ended with what he felt was an offer he had to refuse nearly three years ago.
He arrived to honor the man he said gave him the greatest years of his professional life, the late George Steinbrenner. Steinbrenner was given his own monument among all the Yankees legends beyond the wall in center field.
When Steinbrenner handed Torre the Yankees' job in 1996, Torre's managerial record was mediocre at best. Torre's first managerial job was with the Mets. He took that job at 36, and now at 70 he declined to rule out a return to Queens.
"Oh, there is no question," Torre told ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor after being asked if he would listen if Fred and Jeff Wilpon called him about the Mets' managerial job. "That is why I didn't shut the door. I saw Freddie [Wilpon] when they unveiled Commissioner [Bud] Selig's statue [in Milwaukee,] but we just said hello."
The Mets could have interest, but first they are expected to decide if they will reassign current general manager Omar Minaya. A new GM would likely have a large say in who their next manager will be. Current Mets manager Jerry Manuel is not expected to return.
Along with current ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, another ex-Mets manager, Torre could emerge as a very popular choice among the team's fan base.
"I'm honored, you know, that people would think of me," said Torre, who announced last week he would not return to the Dodgers next season. "Not too many guys 70 years old, people would think about going somewhere as a manager."
Earlier in the day, Torre said that he hadn't spoken to anyone about a new managerial opportunity.
"I have not had and nobody that I know of has had contact with anybody," Torre told WFAN in New York when asked about the Mets on Monday. "I am curious. When the season is over, I hope the phone will be ringing."
Torre told the radio station that he had been considering leaving the Dodgers for a while.
"I was very frustrated by the ballclub really spinning their wheels over the last year," he said. "I made up my mind about a month ago and let [Dodgers hitting coach and next manager] Donnie [Mattingly] know how I was feeling, but I didn't want to say anything until we were completely out of the race."
While he is open to remaining with the Dodgers in another capacity, he hasn't completely ruled out managing again.
"I made the announcement about not coming back to the Dodgers and I left the door open," Torre said, according to WFAN. "I don't really anticipate managing again, but I think it would be unfair not to listen just out of curiosity to see if something excites me."
Wally Backman, currently the Mets' Class A manager, could also be a popular choice for New York fans, and he would be much cheaper than Torre or Valentine.
Torre's return to the Bronx somewhat overshadowed Steinbrenner's monument presentation. Torre was joined during his news conference by Mattingly. Mattingly, who was passed over by the Yankees to replace Torre in the Bronx, was back for the first time, too, since 2007. Though Mattingly, who was just named the new manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, lost out to Joe Girardi, he said he didn't leave with hard feelings.
"There was no bitterness for me," Mattingly said. "I always expected to come back."
It wasn't the same for Torre, who criticized the franchise in his book "The Yankee Years," co-written with Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci. Yankees GM Brian Cashman had not spoken with Torre since the release of the book.
Following Torre's pregame news conference, Cashman showed up. Torre wrapped Cashman up in a huge hug as photographers and cameramen jockeyed for a position to record the moment.
"Hey, we've got to talk," Torre whispered to Cashman, and later the two talked in a private meeting.
Cashman was reportedly annoyed with the portrayal of the inner workings of the Yankees in the book, but he chose to forgive.
"We talked about a lot of different things and you have to turn the page," Cashman said.
During the ceremony for Steinbrenner, Torre and Mattingly walked with the other Yankees legends to Monument Park. When shown on the video board, Torre received a nice, but not raucous, ovation.
Torre's return reminded Mattingly of the end of the cold war between Steinbrenner and Yogi Berra. Berra held a 14-year boycott of Yankee Stadium, saying in 1985 he would not return to the Bronx until Steinbrenner didn't own the team.
Berra, who was upset with how he was treated by Steinbrenner, made up with The Boss in 1999. Berra, who even missed his own monument ceremony in 1988, was present on Monday night.
Mattingly, who was present for the Berra and Torre freeze-outs, thought Torres return brought the same sort of closure as Berra's.
"It was kind of like Yogi," Mattingly said.
Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin contributed to this report.