Torre's future still uncertain as Yankees end second day of meetings

TAMPA, Fla. -- This business with Joe Torre is getting kind
of bizarre.

After two days of much-hyped meetings, owner George Steinbrenner
and the New York Yankees still won't say whether they plan to bring
back Torre for a 13th season as their manager.

"We hold Joe Torre in the highest regard and, obviously, that's
why we're taking the time ... to determine what's best for us as we
move forward and whether he's a part of that or not," general
manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday outside Legends Field, the
team's spring training home.

"More meetings. We're working on it," team president Randy
Levine said when he arrived at Legends Field on Thursday.

ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports that a decision isn't expected on Thursday either, but word on Torre's fate could come by the end of the week.

Cashman returned to New York, along with chief operating officer
Lonn Trost and assistant GM Jean Afterman. Team president Randy
Levine remained in Florida.

Steinbrenner, who has the final say, also was in Florida, along
with sons Hal and Hank and son-in-law Felix Lopez. The owner
arrived at Legends Field shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday.

Cashman wouldn't give any timing for a final say on Torre, whose
$19.2 million, three-year contract expires Oct. 31. He said that if
the decision is made to keep Torre, "then there's a negotiation.
... And that takes time. It's as simple as that."

"As long as it takes," Cashman said, "So give it the time it

While the team's top officials met in Florida, some fans signed
a petition Wednesday at a "Save Joe Torre" rally near Times
Square in New York.

Steinbrenner did not comment -- he hasn't discussed Torre's
future publicly since he told The Record of Hackensack, N.J., on
Oct. 6 that he didn't think he'd bring back Torre if the Yankees
failed to advance to the AL championship series. Cleveland then
eliminated New York in four games, the Yankees' third straight
first-round exit.

Cashman said that he has remained in contact with Torre.

"I talk to Joe as a friend and colleague," he said.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN Radio in New York reported on Wednesday that the Yankees have not contacted bench coach Don Mattingly's agent, Ray Schulte about the managerial job.

"We haven't heard anything," Schulte said.

Cashman did indicate a subtle shift in the Yankees' power
structure. Asked whether the 77-year-old owner will pick the
manager, the general manager responded: "The Boss owns the
franchise, so obviously, the Boss, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner are
obviously the ownership group that I answer to."

Before the afternoon meeting, there was a morning session that
also included senior vice president of baseball operations Mark
Newman, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer and special adviser
Gene Michael.

Cashman said the Yankees are maintaining their position that
they will not negotiate with Alex Rodriguez if he terminates his
$252 million, 10-year contract.

Rodriguez, who has three seasons left on the deal, must decide
by the 10th day following the World Series.

"I can reaffirm that, if Alex Rodriguez opts out of his
contract, then we will not participate in his free agency,"
Cashman said. "That is accurate and that is definitive."

Rodriguez met for three days this week in California with his
agent, Scott Boras, to determine his strategy.

"He said he's comfortable playing in New York and enjoys it,"
Boras said. "However he has a right available to him that is
solely in his discretion."

A determination also has not been made on Torre's coaches. That
will come after there's a decision on the manager.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.