Torre to manage Yankees through 2007

Updated: April 9, 2004, 9:35 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Joe Torre and George Steinbrenner are going to grow old together.

Torre and the New York Yankees agreed Friday to a $19.2 million, three-year contract extension through 2007, reaching the deal a season after his relationship with Steinbrenner soured so much it threw the manager's future in doubt.

"I'm glad to be back," Torre said before the Yankees lost to the Chicago White Sox 9-3. "Last year, I wasn't sure during the course of the year if the Yankees had had enough of me."

Despite guiding the Yankees to four World Series titles in eight years, Torre still did not know what would happen when he got to spring training. Then, Steinbrenner popped into his office at Legends Field for an impromptu chat, and that changed everything.

"What do you want to do next year?" the owner asked Torre.

Said Torre: "I was really pleased to hear that."

Torre, 63, will remain as a consultant to the Yankees for up to six years after he's finished managing, at between $500,000 and $600,000 annually.

As for retiring after 2007, "I'm guessing I will, but I'm sure we'll talk."

The Yankees have reached postseason play in all eight seasons under Torre, advancing to the World Series six times.

Torre, in the final season of a three-year deal worth about $16 million, gets $6.1 million in both 2005 and 2006, and $7 million in 2007. He'd also get a $1 million bonus each time the Yankees win the World Series.

"Joe Torre is a native New Yorker with all the mental toughness that New Yorkers possess," Steinbrenner, 73, said in a statement. "He's part of the family and I'm very happy that he will finish his career as a Yankee."

Several Yankees gathered around a television set in the clubhouse lounge to watch the announcement.

Captain Derek Jeter, who still calls his manager "Mr. Torre," was thrilled to see the deal get done.

"I couldn't imagine him not being here," Jeter said. "He deserved it as much as anyone."

Said pitcher Mike Mussina: "As far as we were concerned, there was no other choice."

"All the things he has to deal with -- the media, the front office, the players -- he's the right person," he said.

After the Yankees' loss, Alex Rodriguez said the announcement was a highlight.

"Yes, that was good news. Everybody in the clubhouse had a smile on their face when we heard about it," he said.

Torre's run is the longest for a Yankees manager since Casey Stengel guided the team for 12 straight seasons from 1949-60.

A turbulent 2003 strained the relationship between Torre and Steinbrenner, and left the manager wondering whether this would be his final season. There was a breakdown in communications, from the handling of pitcher Jose Contreras to the role of bench Don Zimmer.

"There's no question, with everything that went on, George Steinbrenner is not very happy when you lose," Torre said.

Going into spring training, Torre said he and his wife, Ali, "believed this was our last year."

Once Steinbrenner gave the go-ahead for the extension in early March, Torre negotiated with the owner's son-in-law, Steve Swindal, who is a Yankees' partner.

While talks went smoothly, they took longer than first anticipated because of New York's busy schedule, which included an opening two-game series in Tokyo last week.

Torre, his wife and Swindal sat together at a table in announcing the extension.

Swindal said the deal ensured "him retiring in pinstripes" on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Torre ranks 13th among managers on baseball's career wins list with a record of 1,683-1,512. He was 789-509 since taking over the Yankees before the start of the 1996 season.

"I'm very satisfied and George Steinbrenner is very satisfied," Torre said.

So was Jeter, who never let himself think that Torre would soon be gone.

"Things happen so quickly around here, I don't believe something until it happens," he said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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