Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Updated: September 22, 3:04 AM ET
Joe Torre closes door on Mets
By Tony Jackson
LOS ANGELES -- Joe Torre, who announced Friday that he was stepping down as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and that he didn't think he would manage again but never closes the door on anything, officially closed the door on something Tuesday: He said he will not be the next manager of the New York Mets.
"I won't be managing the Mets," Torre said. "I am closing the door on managing the Mets and probably everybody else. I don't want to mislead anybody. My intention is that when I finish here as a manager a week from Sunday, I am anticipating that will be my last game as a manager. I don't want to say I'm definitely not going to do this again, but that [applies] only to other [teams] aside from the Mets."
Torre created a New York-style controversy while at Yankee Stadium on Monday, along with incoming Dodgers manager and longtime Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly, to attend a pregame ceremony for late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. When asked during his visit whether he would listen if the Mets called him about managing the club again -- Torre managed the Mets from 1977 to 1981 -- Torre said there was "no question" that he would.
That comment raised the ire of current Mets manager Jerry Manuel, whose job security has been the subject of rampant speculation as the club has stumbled to another disappointing finish. For the moment, though, Manuel remains in place, and when asked about Torre's comment before Tuesday night's game at Florida, Manuel took exception.
"When things like that come out or are said, you question integrity," Manuel told ESPNNewYork.com. "That is what comes to mind. ... I find it also curious when someone comments about a job that someone already has."
About three hours before the Dodgers played the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night, Torre apologized through the media to Manuel, although he said he hadn't reached out to Manuel personally.
"I apologize," Torre said. "He is right that I shouldn't have said that, and I don't think I did. Somebody asked me if I would take a call from [Mets owner] Fred Wilpon. I have known Fred Wilpon forever. ... I went to New York to pay tribute to George. If I was looking for a job, I probably wouldn't have gone to New York. ... I apologize to Jerry Manuel and all the other managers.
"I don't blame them. I know they don't want to get stepped on. I know in answering questions [on Monday] and having a press conference, I know what my intention was. Unfortunately, I can't get on the other side of it and see how it's received."
Torre's first job as a manager was with the Mets, who hired him as player-manager in 1977, and he retired as a player a couple of weeks after that. He was fired by Wilpon on the final day of the 1981 season. Torre managed the New York Yankees from 1996 to 2007, winning six American League pennants and four World Series during that time.
"I spent 12 years forging a relationship with those [Yankees] fans," Torre said. "I don't want to all of a sudden go across the river and have them get mad at me.''
Although there could be an unusually high number of managerial openings around the major leagues this winter, Torre still sounds like a man who doesn't want to manage anymore.
"I would doubt very seriously if there would be anything that would entice me to manage again,'' he said. "This is pretty good duty out here, this franchise and this ballpark. I don't anticipate anything that would make sense for me to manage again."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.