Is Joe Torre in or out? Only New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner knows for sure -- and he has yet to officially announce his intentions.
The New York Post, citing several unnamed sources, reported Tuesday that Steinbrenner has decided against firing Torre.
That comes three days after it was first reported by the New York Daily News that Steinbrenner was about to fire Torre and seek former Yankees outfielder and manager Lou Piniella as Torre's replacement.
Steinbrenner returned to the Yankees' Tampa headquarters Monday after meeting with Yankees officials to discuss his manager's future. "I have not made up my mind yet," Steinbrenner told reporters after having lunch in Manhattan.
And with no official word contradicting earlier reports, it remained possible that Steinbrenner, who said the Yankees' second consecutive first-round exit was "absolutely not acceptable" and a "sad failure," would fire Torre after 11 years, six AL pennants and four World Series titles -- but no world championships in the past six years.
But the Post reported that Steinbrenner, despite at first wanting to fire Torre, had decided to keep the manager for a 12th season after mulling it over with his most trusted advisors.
Torre arrived at Yankee Stadium late Tuesday morning and the team said he would hold his annual postseason press conference at 1 p.m.
While Steinbrenner took a second day to decide whether to retain Torre, Yankees players on Monday expressed support for their manager.
Steinbrenner returned to the Yankees' Tampa headquarters after meeting with Yankees officials to discuss Torre's future. "I have not made up my mind yet," Steinbrenner told reporters after having lunch in Manhattan.
There was a lot of conversation Monday, but there is no timetable for when a decision will be made, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reports. General manager Brian Cashman said he wants Torre to remain on the job.
It was unclear whether Steinbrenner and Torre have spoken since the Yankees were eliminated Saturday from the playoffs, 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 on Saturday night for the
second straight year. The Daily News reported Sunday that
Steinbrenner was ready to fire him and insert Piniella as skipper.
"We've always been friendly," Piniella said in Oakland,
Calif., at a workout before the AL Championship Series, which he
will broadcast for Fox. "No, we haven't talked at all about that.
In fact, I haven't seen Mr. Steinbrenner in 10 months. Talk to my
agent about these things.
"Look, I don't want to get into that subject. It's not right. I
respect the situation too much for me to comment on anything
else," Piniella added.
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.
Rodriguez and his wife, Cynthia, had lunch on Monday at the same time as Steinbrenner, on the same block, The New York Times reported. Rodriguez signed autographs for fans but declined to answer questions.
Later, Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, told The Times that Rodriguez supported Torre.
"Alex is very supportive of Joe Torre and enjoys playing for him," Boras said in a phone interview with the newspaper. "I think he views what happened this postseason as one where some great starting pitchers beat a very good offense. From his perspective, that had nothing to do with Joe Torre."
Jaret Wright, who lasted only 2 2/3 innings as the Yankees were eliminated Saturday, 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
Wright packed up his locker while avoiding the mess of cardboard
boxes filled with baseballs, bats and athletic apparel strewn
across the floor. Miguel Cairo threw a pair of shoes from his
locker into a nearby garbage can, then thought better and fished
Cairo could hardly imagine a new skipper sitting in the office
at Yankee Stadium.
"He's still the manager," he said. "I don't know what you
guys are talking about. He's the manager. He's going to be the
manager until something happens different but he's still the
The 66-year-old Torre led the Yankees to an AL-best 97-65 record
this season. His 11-year managerial stint is the longest
uninterrupted period for the club since Casey Stengel was in the
dugout for 12 straight seasons from 1949-1960.
The Brooklyn-born Torre has won four World Series championships
with New York, but the last title came in 2000 -- a virtual eternity
for the demanding Steinbrenner.
"He's a class act," Villone said of Torre. "He knows what
he's doing. He's a great manager."
Villone pitched for Piniella during his first year in the big
leagues when "Sweet Lou" led the Mariners in 1995.
"He wants to win," Villone said. "He lets his emotions ride
right out in front of everybody, so that's good. He doesn't hold
anything back. But I think he's willing to listen to anybody,
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.