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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Yankees Steinbrenner Predicts - Or Is It Orders - World Series Title

(For Yankeees tickets, click on the title of this post.)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Welcome to "The Spring of George" at Legends Field.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, eager to bring a trophy back to New York and excited about the acquisition of Johnny Damon, predicted on Wednesday that this year's Yankees will win the franchise's first World Series title since 2000.

"It's been a while; we haven't won it," said Steinbrenner, who stopped to speak to TV and radio reporters. "We're going to win it this year. We're going after them this year."

The statements came as Steinbrenner, who has been more visible than usual during the first week of Spring Training, paid a visit to manager Joe Torre, parking himself on Torre's couch while the manager met with reporters.

Torre and Steinbrenner's icy relationship from last season has been well documented, and the manager made a point to address it in October as he decided whether to return for an 11th season with the Yankees.

The two men have already spoken several times this spring, so Wednesday's visit wasn't out of the ordinary, other than its timing.

"I can't do much to teach him anything," Steinbrenner said of his visits with Torre, "but I'm just there [for Torre] to know he's got my support."

Steinbrenner even muscled his way into Torre's interview session, injecting some laughter into the room. Torre was asked about the Yankees' pursuit of Damon after the 2001 season, when Jason Giambi expressed his desire to see his former Oakland teammate join him in the Bronx.

"I remember when we signed Jason, he said, 'Johnny Damon is out there,' " Torre said. "But he took all the money, so we couldn't do anything."

The words were barely out of Torre's mouth when Steinbrenner inserted his two cents into the conversation.

"You got some, didn't you?" Steinbrenner said.

"Thank you, sir," said a smiling Torre.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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