Torre will return as Yankees manager in 2006

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

When Joe Torre arrived to board a private plane that would take him to his meeting with George Steinbrenner, he wasn't sure of his future.

"If I sensed that they were thinking something different than I was, we were going to have to find a way to split up," Torre said Tuesday.

Then, while Monday's takeoff was delayed for an hour by mechanical problems, Yankees president Randy Levine told him: "We want you back."

"That sort of broke the ice," Torre said.

After meeting with Steinbrenner for 45 minutes to an hour in Tampa, Fla., Torre was sure he wanted to return for his 11th season as Yankees manager.

"We didn't use the word love, but it was pretty warm," Torre said. "It was something more than cordial."

Leaving New York's minor league complex Tuesday, Steinbrenner praised Torre.

"It makes me feel very good. It really does," Steinbrenner said. "He's a good man. I like him. I understand him. I understand what he's after. I'm very happy to have him."

Steinbrenner hopes general manager Brian Cashman stays, too. Cashman's contract expires at the end of the month.

"We want Brian to return if we can get him," he said.

Asked whether he thought there was a good possibility Cashman would stay on the job, Steinbrenner responded: "I do."

Torre said he still was leaning toward retiring when his current contract expires after the 2007 season. After he arrived in Tampa, he felt positive vibes from Steinbrenner even before the start of Monday's meeting at Legends Field.

"As I was going through the parking lot, he was pulling up in a car and he said, 'Hi Joseph,'" Torre recalled. "Just little things that he does as opposed to what he says go a long way with me."

Torre, 65, who has managed New York to eight straight AL East titles, didn't want to make a decision in the aftermath of the Yankees' elimination on Oct. 10 because he was exhausted. He described his mind last week as "scrambled eggs" and spent several days with his family thinking over his future.

"I realize I still want to do this thing. I still want to manage," he said. "There's only one place to manage in my estimation. It's been the best time I've ever had, these 10 years."

Torre led New York to four World Series titles in his first five seasons, but the Yankees have not won the World Series since 2000. He has two years remaining on his contract and is owed $13.1 million.

"The rewards are so enormous that it's certainly worth what you put in here. That's why I'm back here," Torre said. "I mean, sure, I get paid a lot of money. Damn right, I enjoy that part of it. But if it wasn't for the nature of what I do, that wouldn't even have been enough to have me continue doing this."

Torre contacted Cashman and general partner Steve Swindal -- Steinbrenner's son-in-law -- on Saturday to suggest the meeting.

Heredia suspended

New York Mets reliever Felix Heredia was suspended for the first 10 days of next season for violating baseball's steroids policy.

Heredia became the 11th major league player suspended for steroids. The announcement came Tuesday.

Traded from the Yankees to the Mets during the offseason, Heredia appeared in only three games before going on the disabled list in April with a strained left thumb. Doctors then found an aneurysm in his left shoulder after he began having circulation problems and he missed the rest of the season following surgery.

Player of the year: Jones

Atlanta's Andruw Jones, whose 51 home runs helped lead Atlanta to its 14th straight divisional title, on Tuesday was named player of the year by The Sporting News.

Jones received 194 1/2 votes from 498 major league players. Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs was second with 126 votes, followed by Albert Pujols of St. Louis with 63.

Details of the St. Louis-based publication's postseason awards will be outlined in the Oct. 28 edition, on sale today.

Though he hit just .263, Jones led all of baseball in homers and led the National League with 128 RBIs.

Atlanta's Bobby Cox was named National League manager of the year, and Ozzie Guillen of the Chicago White Sox won the American League award.

Bartolo Colon of the Los Angeles Angels and Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals were chosen as pitchers of the year. The top rookie awards went to Huston Street of Oakland and Willy Taveras of Houston.

Comeback player awards went to the New York Yankees' Jason Giambi and Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr.

-- The Associated Press

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