Torre wants Williams to accept minor league contract
TAMPA, Fla. -- If Joe Torre doesn't hear from Bernie Williams soon, the manager will reach out again to the longtime Yankees star.
Torre spoke Wednesday with Williams and urged him to accept a minor league contract and come to spring training. Williams, who has played for New York since 1991, feels slighted because the Yankees won't guarantee him a spot on the team.
"If it gets to a point where he hasn't called me, I'll call him back," Torre said Friday. "And I don't know when that point is. It may be tomorrow sometime."
If Williams reports to spring training, it appears the 38-year-old outfielder would have a decent chance to make the 25-man roster. After general manager Brian Cashman said for two months that the team planned to platoon Doug Mientkiewicz at first base with Josh Phelps or Andy Phillips, Torre backtracked from that this week, saying it was possible Mientkiewicz could play first base regularly, or perhaps in combination with Jason Giambi. If that happened, a spot for Williams would open up.
Williams might want an assurance that if he goes to spring training, he would be on the team when the season starts.
"He's just evaluating the situation. He's kind of refocusing his alternatives," Williams' agent, Scott Boras, said Friday. "Bernie's made the decision at this point that given his long-standing relationship with the Yankees, it's not appropriate to play for another team."
Williams is wanted in camp by several Yankees. Captain Derek Jetersaid "it would be weird" to play without Williams but that it wouldn't sink in until Tuesday, when position players start workouts. Last year, Williams hit .281 with 12 home runs and 61 RBIs in 420 at-bats.
"I hope for selfish reasons he comes down here," Jeter said after moving his gear from the minor league complex across the street to Legends Field. "I'm sure everybody in here wants Bernie to come back. Yeah, you feel for him. He wants to play. This is the place he wants to play. He's been here a long time. This is all he's known, so you hope that he gets that opportunity -- at least I hope he does."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press