ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Don Zimmer is happy to be back in
baseball -- if not the dugout -- after leaving the New York Yankees
because of a strained relationship with owner George Steinbrenner.
Zimmer was hired Friday as an adviser by the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays, who will have him in uniform as a coach for spring training
and pregame workouts at home games and on select road trips during
the regular season.
Zimmer, who turns 73 on Jan. 17, has been in baseball 55 years --
33 as a major league coach or manager. He spent the last eight
seasons as bench coach for Yankees manager Joe Torre and is
grateful for the opportunity to continue his career just a few
miles from his Treasure Island home.
He said if he hadn't received a job from the Devil Rays, or
another team he did not identify, he would have officially retired.
He will not be in the dugout during games because Tampa Bay already
has a full coaching staff.
"It's a good feeling to be wanted," Zimmer, who left New York
after complaining Steinbrenner treated him unkindly, said during a
"I left because I wanted to leave. Still, it's not the way you
want to say goodbye to somebody, except him. It was tough leaving
the Yankees, but I just had enough. I left because of him and no
With the Devil Rays, Zimmer will hold the title of senior
baseball adviser and will assist the team in community affairs. He
said he had always taken some ribbing from friends about his title.
"I've never been nothing but a broken down coach," joked
Zimmer, who managed 13 seasons in the majors, compiling an 885-858
(.508) record with the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers and Cubs.
He also managed the Yankees the first 36 games (21-15) of the
1999 season when Torre was recovering from prostate cancer. He owns
six World Series rings -- four as a coach with the Yankees, and two
as a player for Brooklyn in 1955 and Los Angeles in 1959.
"Don brings a tremendous amount of experience to our
organization," Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar said.
Zimmer's falling out with Steinbrenner wasn't the only spat that
landed Zimmer in the headlines last season.
In Game 3 of the AL championship series, Zimmer was involved in
a melee in which he was tossed to the ground by Boston pitcher
Pedro Martinez. Zimmer tearfully apologized the next day for his
actions and was fined $5,000 by major league baseball.