Yankees promote Mattingly; manager's job in future?

Updated: November 1, 2006, 7:41 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Don Mattingly is moving up to New York Yankees' bench coach next season, a promotion that makes him the early favorite to one day succeed Joe Torre as manager.

Matt May/US PRESSWIREThe next Yankee manager? Don Mattingly's promotion puts him in position to possibly succeed Joe Torre.

A six-time All-Star first baseman for the Yankees from 1982-95, Mattingly rejoined New York in 2004 as hitting coach. Torre, hired by New York before the 1996 season, is entering the final season of his contract and isn't sure he wants to manage beyond 2007.

"It's probably a step in that direction," Mattingly said Wednesday during a telephone conference call. "I want to have an opportunity to manage at some point."

Also Wednesday, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner returned to his office at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., for the first time since fainting Sunday in Chapel Hill, N.C., while watching a granddaughter in a play.

It marked the second time in three years that the 76-year-old Steinbrenner had fainted and been hospitalized overnight.

"I feel good. It's business as usual," he said after spending five hours at his office.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he had been in daily contact with the owner.

Cashman acknowledged Mattingly could follow Torre, saying this "was the next logical step."

"I think it's possible. That's something over time that could happen," Cashman said. "But I did have a discussion with Donnie to make sure there was no confusion: This does not guarantee that."

A fan favorite, Mattingly has spent much of the past three seasons working in batting cages with Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez and others. From his retirement until 2004, his involvement with the Yankees was primarily as a spring-training instructor because he wanted to spend time with his family as his children grew.

As soon as he returned to the clubhouse fulltime, the idea of managing intrigued him.

"I knew I kind of wanted to do it right away, pretty much right away, but I didn't feel I was ready in any way shape or form to move in that direction," he said. "I've known for a while that I wanted to do it but it's not something I really wanted to come out and to say. It's more something I wanted to grow into."

Cashman didn't think that Mattingly would benefit much from managing in the minor leagues due to constrictions the big league club places on the use of players to keep them ready as major league fill-ins.

"Going to the bench is going give him some added experience and insight into the decision-making process that managers have to do," Cashman said. "This is going to give him the added insight of dealing with assisting Joe Torre in all aspects of the game."

Lee Mazzilli had returned to the Yankees this year as bench coach. The Yankees are not bringing back the former Baltimore manager.

"He is not a scapegoat for why we lost," Cashman said, adding that "sometimes there's some complexities involved in it" and listing various team executives who also have input into the coaching staff.

"I think Maz is a good coach and would be an asset for anybody out there who would have an interest in him," Cashman said. "But again, it's a tough business and change unfortunately at times is a part of the business."

Kevin Long takes over as the Yankees' hitting coach after three seasons in that role with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers of the International League. Cashman said the other coaches -- Ron Guidry (pitching), Larry Bowa (third base), Tony Pena (first base) and Joe Kerrigan (bullpen) -- want to return and that he is trying to work out contracts. ... Other than to say he had spoken with agent Rufus Williams, Cashman declined to discuss Gary Sheffield, who said he doesn't want the Yankees to exercise their $13 million option. That decision must be made by Sunday.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press