During last offseason, New York Yankees manager Joe Torre lost his longtime trusted bench coach, Don Zimmer. This offseason, it's his longtime trusted pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyre, who might leave.
The coach called the team to say he hadn't made up his mind after reports that he had retired were published Wednesday, according to the New York Daily News.
One Yankee source told the paper that Georger Steinbrenner, contrary to other speculation, wants the coach to return.
"The only thing that matters is that two people want Mel back, and that's the owner and the manager [Joe Torre]," the source told the paper. "That's all that matters."
The New York Times on Wednesday cited a "person who spoke to one of Stottlemyre's colleagues" as saying Stottlemyre would not be back. He likely would be replaced by Neil Allen, a former pitcher for Torre with the Mets and the pitching coach at Triple-A Columbus the last two seasons.
Stottlemyre could feel, the Times noted, that he is likely to be Steinbrenner's fall guy for the failure of the Yankees' starting pitching this past season. The Yankees had hoped for more from Javier Vazquez and Kevin Brown than they got.
In 2003, when they had Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Wells in the rotation, the Yankees had a 4.02 earned run average, third best in the AL. In 2004, their ERA rose to 4.69, sixth in the league.
Stottlemyre actually thought be might be fired last year by Steinbrenner, who is wont to fire coaches as a motivational tool for players and coaches who are still with the team.
Whether that's in this year's plan isn't known, and general manager Brian Cashman isn't saying.
"I'm not prepared to discuss the coaching staff at this point," Cashman said yesterday.
When asked whether Stottlemyre had contacted him, Cashman declined to comment, and Stottlemyre did not respond to a Times telephone message left at his home in Issaquah, Wash., though the New York Post is reporting that Stottlemyre could make known today his decision to quit.
Bench coach Willie Randolph became the Mets manager on Thursday. That, and a Stottlemyre decision to leave would change the look of the Yankees' coaching staff.