Boss, brass discuss Torre; no timetable on decision
Is Joe Torre in or out? Only New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner knows for sure -- and he has yet to officially announce his intentions.
The New York Post, citing several unnamed sources, reported Tuesday that Steinbrenner has decided against firing Torre.
That comes three days after it was first reported by the New York Daily News that Steinbrenner was about to fire Torre and seek former Yankees outfielder and manager Lou Piniella as Torre's replacement.
And with no official word contradicting earlier reports, it remained possible that Steinbrenner, who said the Yankees' second consecutive first-round exit was "absolutely not acceptable" and a "sad failure," would fire Torre after 11 years, six AL pennants and four World Series titles -- but no world championships in the past six years.
But the Post reported that Steinbrenner, despite at first wanting to fire Torre, had decided to keep the manager for a 12th season after mulling it over with his most trusted advisors.
Torre arrived at Yankee Stadium late Tuesday morning and the team said he would hold his annual postseason press conference at 1 p.m.
While Steinbrenner took a second day to decide whether to retain Torre, Yankees players on Monday expressed support for their manager.
Steinbrenner returned to the Yankees' Tampa headquarters after meeting with Yankees officials to discuss Torre's future. "I have not made up my mind yet," Steinbrenner told reporters after having lunch in Manhattan.
There was a lot of conversation Monday, but there is no timetable for when a decision will be made, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reports. General manager Brian Cashman said he wants Torre to remain on the job.
Gary Sheffield told USA Today that Joe Torre's decision to bat Alex Rodriguez eighth in Game 4 ended up dooming the Yankees.
"I think that affected the morale and psyche of the entire team, not just A-Rod," Sheffield told the newspaper. "I'm not making any excuses, but everyone was wondering what was going on. It made it a real weird day. You would like to be treated with a little respect, I don't care who you play for."
Sheffield felt the move helped Detroit.
"[Tigers manager] Jim Leyland took advantage of that. He can make you believe anything. He can put a fire under your belt like you never had before in your life.
"Not to make excuses, but we didn't have that."
It was unclear whether Steinbrenner and Torre have spoken since the Yankees were eliminated Saturday from the playoffs, but the pair apparently did not meet before the Boss left town.
Since talking over as manager after the 1995 season, Torre has managed the Yankees to nine consecutive AL East titles and 11 straight playoff appearances.
"He gave us every opportunity," reliever Ron Villone said Monday, when a few more players came to Yankee Stadium to clean out their lockers. "He put us on the field at the right times. I mean, we came through in a lot of different ways. We had some injuries.
"He put the right lineups out there for us to jell and do the right things to win enough games to make it to the playoffs. You can't point the finger at him. You can only point it at us," he said.
Torre may have to take the blame after the Yankees bowed out of the playoffs in the AL Division Series on Saturday night for the second straight year. The Daily News reported Sunday that Steinbrenner was ready to fire him and insert Piniella as skipper.
"We've always been friendly," Piniella said in Oakland, Calif., at a workout before the AL Championship Series, which he will broadcast for Fox. "No, we haven't talked at all about that. In fact, I haven't seen Mr. Steinbrenner in 10 months. Talk to my agent about these things.
"Look, I don't want to get into that subject. It's not right. I respect the situation too much for me to comment on anything else," Piniella added.
There was no sign of Torre at Yankee Stadium, and the team's media-relations staff was unsure when he would give his annual summation -- which last year was delayed until after Torre and Steinbrenner met in Tampa. Captain Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez also have not come to the ballpark to clean out their lockers.
Rodriguez and his wife, Cynthia, had lunch on Monday at the same time as Steinbrenner, on the same block, The New York Times reported. Rodriguez signed autographs for fans but declined to answer questions.
Later, Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, told The Times that Rodriguez supported Torre.
"Alex is very supportive of Joe Torre and enjoys playing for him," Boras said in a phone interview with the newspaper. "I think he views what happened this postseason as one where some great starting pitchers beat a very good offense. From his perspective, that had nothing to do with Joe Torre."
Jaret Wright, who lasted only 2 2/3 innings as the Yankees were eliminated Saturday, said the defeat wasn't Torre's fault.
"I mean, he didn't get any at-bats," Wright said. "He didn't throw any pitches. We did that and we wish it could've turned out better for him, for us and for the fans but it didn't and you go from there."
Wright packed up his locker while avoiding the mess of cardboard boxes filled with baseballs, bats and athletic apparel strewn across the floor. Miguel Cairo threw a pair of shoes from his locker into a nearby garbage can, then thought better and fished them out.
Cairo could hardly imagine a new skipper sitting in the office at Yankee Stadium.
"He's still the manager," he said. "I don't know what you guys are talking about. He's the manager. He's going to be the manager until something happens different but he's still the manager."
The 66-year-old Torre led the Yankees to an AL-best 97-65 record this season. His 11-year managerial stint is the longest uninterrupted period for the club since Casey Stengel was in the dugout for 12 straight seasons from 1949-1960.
The Brooklyn-born Torre has won four World Series championships with New York, but the last title came in 2000 -- a virtual eternity for the demanding Steinbrenner.
"He's a class act," Villone said of Torre. "He knows what he's doing. He's a great manager."
Villone pitched for Piniella during his first year in the big leagues when "Sweet Lou" led the Mariners in 1995.
"He wants to win," Villone said. "He lets his emotions ride right out in front of everybody, so that's good. He doesn't hold anything back. But I think he's willing to listen to anybody, too."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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