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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Yanks' meetings inconclusive on Day 1

Team has not made a decision regarding Torre's future
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com

The Yankees executed a last-minute change of venue, steering their discussions away from Legends Field, but that was apparently the only decision finalized on their first day of season-end meetings.
With dozens of reporters waiting outside the Yankees' Spring Training home in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, club executives instead huddled for afternoon meetings at the nearby mansion of principal owner George Steinbrenner.

According to reports, the top hierarchy of team executives gathered for several hours. Yet the Yankees did not come to an official conclusion on the fate of manager Joe Torre, whose contract expires at the end of the month.

On behalf of the club, spokesperson Howard Rubenstein released a statement shortly after 4:30 p.m. ET, saying: "The meetings are adjourned for tonight. There have been no decisions made, nor will there be any comment today. The meetings will resume tomorrow."

A final ruling regarding Torre's future is believed to be the first step in what figures to be a busy offseason for the Yankees. The 67-year-old Torre has made the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons at the helm of the club, but his Yankees have suffered first-round exits in three consecutive seasons, prompting some in the organization to consider a leadership change.

Before Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Steinbrenner said in a rare interview that the Yankees were not likely to have Torre back for 2008 if the club did not advance past the first round. The Yankees fell in four games to the Cleveland Indians and official comment from the organization has been sparse since their Oct. 8 elimination.

The afternoon brought a strange twist from a potential successor in the event that the Yankees wish to part ways with Torre.

A representative for bench coach Don Mattingly refuted a report published in the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, which claimed that Mattingly has told members of the organization that he is not ready to manage and does not feel comfortable replacing Torre.

Agent Ray Schulte called the report, which cited a Mattingly friend as a source, "completely false" and "totally fabricated." Schulte said that Mattingly was caught completely by surprise by the report, and that while he hopes Torre returns for the 2008 season, Mattingly would be ready to assume the reins of the club if offered the job.

The organizational meetings are scheduled to resume Wednesday and will feature direct influence from Steinbrenner's sons, Hank and Hal -- both of whom will be taking on increased importance in the club's planning going forward.

In addition to settling the Torre issue, Yankees decision-makers are expected to tackle courses of action in dealing with the club's numerous potential free agents, including an expected contract extension offer for Alex Rodriguez and plans for lifetime Yankees Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, both of whom are seeking multi-year contracts.

Bryan Hoch 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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