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Archive for Saturday, November 1, 2003

Torre: No plans beyond next year

November 1, 2003

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— Next year could be Joe Torre's last as manager of the New York Yankees.

After a draining season in which the Yankees fell two wins short of the World Series title, Torre said Friday he wasn't seeking an extension. He also let owner George Steinbrenner know earlier in the week that he was unhappy with some of the events during a season in which the owner repeatedly applied public pressure.

"This is the last year of my contract," Torre said during a telephone conference call. "I am certainly not politicking for an extension. I do not know if I'm going to do it after this year."

Following the 2001 season, Torre agreed to a three-year contract worth about $16 million. After the Yankees were eliminated by Anaheim in the first round of last year's playoffs, Steinbrenner stepped up the pressure. Earlier this week, Torre let the owner know his thoughts during a meeting in Tampa, Fla., with Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman.

"I talked about some of the things I didn't appreciate as far as the statements and some of the things that went on all year. It was basically a one-sided conversation," Torre said. "I did it, I believe, in a diplomatic way."

Torre took over as manager after the 1995 season and led the team to four World Series titles in his first five seasons. But the Yankees lost Game 7 of the 2001 Series to Arizona, failed to get past Anaheim last year, then lost this year's Series to Florida in six games.

Steinbrenner could not be contacted to respond to Torre's remarks, according to Howard Rubenstein, a spokesman for the owner.

Much of Torre's time in Tampa was devoted to a discussion of the coaching staff. Bench coach Don Zimmer quit, saying he never would work for Steinbrenner again, and hitting coach Rick Down was fired.

Zimmer had been with Torre for all eight seasons, and Torre had hoped to persuade him to stay.

"I think Zim is gone," Torre said. "I talked to him Sunday. He seemed pretty determined that he didn't want to come back here. We're certainly going to miss him."

Torre didn't try to talk Steinbrenner out of firing Down.

"I understand that when things don't turn out as well as you would like them to, there's a certain rearranging of furniture you do just for the sake of change," Torre said, adding that he may leave the choice of Down's successor to others.

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