Yanks' Levine: Torre's Status Undecided

Friday, October 12th 2007, 9:06 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ As George Steinbrenner returned to work at Legends Field for the first time since his team was eliminated, New York Yankees president Randy Levine said the status of manager Joe Torre remains undecided. ``There have been no discussions, no decisions,'' Levine said Friday.

Yankees officials are scheduled to convene at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., starting late Monday or Tuesday to meet with Steinbrenner and talk about whether Torre should return for a 13th season. The officials also will discuss upcoming negotiations with Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, and whether to exercise right fielder Bobby Abreu's $16 million option.

``On any of these matters, the purpose of the meeting is to have a dialogue and discussion on all of them,'' Levine said. ``All of the speculation that has occurred this week is not accurate. No inference can or should be drawn in any way. Everybody is going into these meetings with a clear head and open mind.''

Torre was paid $7.5 million this year, the highest salary among major league managers, and his contract expired. After the Yankees lost their first two postseason games, Steinbrenner told The Record he didn't think he'd bring Torre back if New York failed to advance. The Yankees then won Game 3 before losing Game 4.

The owner has not spoken publicly since his team was eliminated in the first round for the third straight year, and he left for Tampa on Tuesday. He spent about four hours at his office.

Next week's meetings likely will include the owners' sons, Hal and Hank; son-in-law Felix Lopez; Levine; chief operating officer Lonn Trost; and general manager Brian Cashman. Baseball operations officials, such as Mark Newman and Gene Michael, are likely to be part of some sessions.

``I think it could be that just about everything that's on the table now could be decided by the end of next week,'' Hank Steinbrenner said outside Legends Field.

In addition to making a decision on Torre, the Yankees must devise a strategy to deal with Rodriguez, who can opt out of his record $252 million, 10-year contract anytime through the 10th day following the World Series. Rodriguez is 32 and has three years remaining on his current deal. His agent, Scott Boras, has suggested A-Rod's next agreement could run until the star turns 45.

``The only thing that's been decided, that we all agree on, is that (Joba) Chamberlain and (Phil) Hughes start out spring training as starters,'' Hank Steinbrenner said. ``Our pitching has got to be better next year, the starting rotation.''

George Steinbrenner, now 77, had increasingly sought input from his sons.

``That's just part of the natural process,'' Hank Steinbrenner said. ``Myself and my brother will be the general partners and will be running the team (someday). We'll be his successors. That's what it really comes down to.''

Yankees players and people throughout baseball have spoken out on behalf of Torre, who has managed New York to 12 straight postseason appearances. Steinbrenner is frustrated his team hasn't won the World Series since 2000.

``It's not about being the smartest baseball man anymore,'' Boston pitcher Curt Schilling said. ``It has to do with people skills, especially when you play in these markets. When you play in Boston and New York, you deal with things that no one else has to deal with.''

Red Sox manager Terry Francona called Torre.

``Understandably, his phone was off,'' Francona said. ``I don't blame him.''