New York While George Steinbrenner decides whether to keep Joe Torre, Yankees players are supporting their manager.
Steinbrenner left New York and returned to Tampa, Fla., on Monday, spokesman Howard Rubenstein said. Rubenstein said he was not able to speak with Steinbrenner to relay questions on the future of Torre.
It was unclear whether Steinbrenner and Torre have spoken since the Yankees were eliminated, but the pair apparently did not meet before the Boss left town.
Since talking over as manager after the 1995 season, Torre has managed the Yankees to nine consecutive AL East titles and 11 straight playoff appearances.
"He gave us every opportunity," reliever Ron Villone said Monday, when a few more players came to Yankee Stadium to clean out their lockers. "He put us on the field at the right times. I mean, we came through in a lot of different ways. We had some injuries.
"He put the right lineups out there for us to jell and do the right things to win enough games to make it to the playoffs. You can't point the finger at him. You can only point it at us," he said.
Torre may have to take the blame after the Yankees bowed out of the playoffs in the AL division series Saturday night for the second straight year. The Daily News reported Sunday that Steinbrenner was ready to fire him and insert old favorite Lou Piniella as skipper.
There was no sign of Torre at Yankee Stadium, and the team's media-relations staff was unsure when he would give his annual summation - which last year was delayed until after Torre and Steinbrenner met in Tampa. Captain Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez also have not come to the ballpark to clean out their lockers.
Jaret Wright, who lasted only 22â3 innings in the final game of the Yankees' first-round loss to the Tigers, said the defeat wasn't Torre's fault.
"I mean, he didn't get any at-bats," Wright said. "He didn't throw any pitches. We did that, and we wish it could've turned out better for him, for us and for the fans, but it didn't, and you go from there."
"He's a class act," Villone said of Torre. "He knows what he's doing. He's a great manager."