Joe Torre discusses managers
LOS ANGELES -- Officially speaking, Joe Torre is staying out of it. Unofficially, the former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers manager is keeping a close eye on the two men who succeeded him in both jobs.
Torre's protégé with the Dodgers, Don Mattingly, finds himself in precarious waters despite leading the team to the NL West title.
The Dodgers have yet to pick up the option on Mattingly's contract for next season, leaving his future with the club unsettled as they face the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series.
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Torre preferred to avoid managing into the final year of his contract, whenever possible, and said he empathizes with Mattingly's plight.
"Players have to answer a lot of questions and that's a tough part for a manager," Torre said Sunday before Game 3 of the Dodgers-Braves series at Dodger Stadium. "If it was just on the manager and you had to respond as a manager, that's your job. You get paid more than anybody else on your coaching staff based on the fact that you've got to be there and respond to all the questions. But in New York, and I can't tell you what's happening here, but in New York, my concern was the fact that they were asking players. I didn't know what they were asking them, but it was related to me and whether they liked me or didn't like me, it's a tough question to answer."
The man who succeeded him in New York faces an entirely different offseason question. The Yankees offered Joe Girardi a new contract last week, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, but are awaiting word as to whether he will accept it. Girardi is also thought to be at the top of the Chicago Cubs' list to replace the fired Dale Sveum.
"I've talked to Joe Girardi," Torre said. "I didn't ask if he was staying or going. But I can tell you, [New York] is a pretty tough place to walk away from. On the other hand, if Chicago is the other option, that's a pretty special place to go, too."
Torre said he's kept an eye on both men since he retired as the Dodgers manager after the 2010 season, but his conversations with them are mostly limited to his role as an executive vice president with Major League Baseball.
"I recommended Don Mattingly because I think very highly of him," Torre said. "I picked him out because I liked the qualities he has. I liked his qualities as a person."
Asked whether he had an opinion of Mattingly's controversial decisions in the seventh inning of Game 2 on Friday night, Torre declined to comment, saying he didn't see the game live because he was out to dinner in Boston.
As for the scrutiny Mattingly has faced in the last few days, Torre said he wasn't concerned in the least about him.
"Donny's a tough kid," Torre said. "He coached for me a number of years, but when it came time for him to manage, he wasn't trying to copy anyone. He had his own ideas about how to do it."
While Torre didn't watch the game live, he did review the controversial play at second base in the ninth inning when Dodgers pinch runner Dee Gordon was called out trying to steal second. Replays appeared to show Gordon safely sliding into the base, but it wasn't conclusive whether Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons tagged his uniform as he caught the ball.
"That play on the steal, whichever way it was called, with all the replays I looked at, I didn't see enough to overturn what was called," Torre said. "You really have to see something definitive in order to overturn."
Torre said baseball continues to make progress toward instituting instant replay into the games -- possibly as soon as next year -- but stressed that the issue is more complicated than it appears.
"We're getting closer and closer," he said. "I'm pretty hopeful that we'll have something set next year."
There has been speculation Torre could also have a new role next season, after commissioner Bud Selig retires.
"I'm 73 years old. I really don't envision that happening," Torre said. "Bud has been there for 20-plus years and when the owners decide on who the new commissioner it's going to be, I think they have to think long term. They have to have that in mind, anyway.
"If they ask me to do something for the game, I certainly would listen. But I have no aspiration to be commissioner, based on my age. It's just reality. I'm very comfortable working there, I have a significant job, and I don't have a great deal of stress in my job. That feels pretty good."