NEW YORK &
Joe Torre seemed to know his time as Yankees manager was running out in his news conference after Monday night's season-ending loss to the Indians. His voice broke, and he spoke of the organization as "this" and "they," not "we" and "our."
Nothing will become official until the powers in the Yankees' organization &
including principal Owner George Steinbrenner, his sons, Hank and Hal, his son-in-law, Felix Lopez, general 'manager Brian Cashman and club president Randy Levine &
meet, probably Thursday in Tampa. But as Hank Steinbrenner put it yesterday: "Nothing lasts forever."
Even Cashman declined to offer Torre his support Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Last year, Cashman's backing of Torre was a major reason Steinbrenner relented and did not fire him. Tuesday, Cashman said he did not want to comment before speaking to ownership.
"Have some patience," Cashman said. "Things take time. There will be a process, and we'll work through that, and it will lead us where it leads us."
If the Yankees do, as expected, announce they have decided not to offer Torre a contract extension, multiple sources have said the leading candidate to replace him is bench coach and former Yankees great Don Mattingly. George Steinbrenner and his older son, Hank, who has recently surged back onto the scene, want Mattingly.
Mattingly is no shoo-in, though. Former Yankee Joe Girardi, who was named National League Manager of the Year with the Marlins in 2006 before being fired because of differences with ownership, has supporters. Tony La Russa, who led the Cardinals to the 2006 world championship, would fit The Boss' preference for star power. Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty was let go last week, and LaRussa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday that he will not commit to returning to St. Louis until a GM is named. Other possibilities could include former Mets and Rangers Manager Bobby Valentine, Yankees first-base coach Tony Pea and Yankees third-base coach Larry Bowa (both former managers).
Hank Steinbrenner left the Regency Hotel in midtown Manhattan Tuesday about 4:30 p.m., just after his father left to fly back to Tampa. The Boss left through a side entrance and avoided reporters, and Hal Steinbrenner refused comment as he left the hotel. But Hank Steinbrenner, a team senior vice president, stopped to answer questions. Asked for his view of Torre's record of 12 consecutive playoff berths, he said: "I think the record speaks for itself. But nothing lasts forever. But no decision has been made."
A source close to the situation agreed, and said nothing will happen before Thursday. Torre's status is only one of many issues the Yankees must address. As Hank Steinbrenner said: "Everything really is up in the air right now."
Torre has received significant public support from his players since George Steinbrenner's ultimatum in a Sunday interview with the Bergen Record, in which he said he didn't think Torre would be back if the Yankees lost in the ALDS. The handful of players who were at Yankee Stadium to clean out their lockers Tuesday added to the praise.
Doug Mientkiewicz pointed to Torre's role in the team's turnaround, singling out a fiery pregame meeting in Toronto on May 29. The Yankees lost that game to fall to a season-low 21-29 but went a major-league best 73-39 the rest of the season.
Even rookie Shelley Duncan, whose father, Dave, is La Russa's pitching coach, said he wouldn't wish for La Russa over Torre. "I'm very, very fond of Joe," Duncan said, "and I can't think about anybody else managing this team. He is the New York Yankees."
None of that, though, is likely to save Torre's job.
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
Torre appears resigned to his fate as Yankee ex-manager
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