No Decision Yet On Yankees' Torre

Thursday, October 18th 2007, 11:05 am
By: News On 6

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Discussions on the future of manager Joe Torre entered a third day Thursday, with some Yankees' officials at the team's spring-training complex and some back in New York.

``More meetings. We're working on it,'' team president Randy Levine said when he arrived at Legends Field on Thursday.

New York's high command was in Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday, and owner George Steinbrenner heard advice on whether he should bring back Torre for a 13th season.

``We hold Joe Torre in the highest regard and, obviously, that's why we're taking the time ... to determine what's best for us as we move forward and whether he's a part of that or not,'' general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday outside Legends Field.

Cashman returned to New York, along with chief operating officer Lonn Trost and assistant GM Jean Afterman.

Steinbrenner, who has the final say, stayed in Florida, along with sons Hal and Hank and son-in-law Felix Lopez.

Cashman wouldn't give any timing for a final say on Torre, whose $19.2 million, three-year contract expires Oct. 31. He said that if the decision is made to keep Torre, ``then there's a negotiation. ... And that takes time. It's as simple as that.''

``As long as it takes,'' Cashman said, ``So give it the time it needs.''

While the team's top officials met in Florida, some fans signed a petition Wednesday at a ``Save Joe Torre'' rally near Times Square in New York.

Steinbrenner did not comment _ he hasn't discussed Torre's future publicly since he told The Record of Hackensack, N.J., on Oct. 6 that he didn't think he'd bring back Torre if the Yankees failed to advance to the AL championship series. Cleveland then eliminated New York in four games, the Yankees' third straight first-round exit.

Cashman said that he has remained in contact with Torre.

``I talk to Joe as a friend and colleague,'' he said.

The Yankees also have not yet reached out to Ray Schulte, the agent for bench coach Don Mattingly, who is the leading contender to take over if Torre doesn't return.

Cashman did indicate a subtle shift in the Yankees' power structure. Asked whether the 77-year-old owner will pick the manager, the general manager responded: ``The Boss owns the franchise, so obviously, the Boss, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner are obviously the ownership group that I answer to.''

Before the afternoon meeting, there was a morning session that also included senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer and special adviser Gene Michael.

Cashman said the Yankees are maintaining their position that they will not negotiate with Alex Rodriguez if he terminates his $252 million, 10-year contract.

Rodriguez, who has three seasons left on the deal, must decide by the 10th day following the World Series.

``I can reaffirm that, if Alex Rodriguez opts out of his contract, then we will not participate in his free agency,'' Cashman said. ``That is accurate and that is definitive.''

Rodriguez met for three days this week in California with his agent, Scott Boras, to determine his strategy.

``He said he's comfortable playing in New York and enjoys it,'' Boras said. ``However he has a right available to him that is solely in his discretion.''

A determination also has not been made on Torre's coaches. That will come after there's a decision on the manager.