Joe Torre set for Yanks' Old-Timers' Day

TAMPA, Fla. --
The reconciliation between the New York Yankees and Joe Torre, which began last July when Torre was invited back to Yankee Stadium for a memorial service honoring George Steinbrenner, will continue on June 26 when the estranged ex-manager returns for his first Old-Timers' Day at the Stadium.

"I don't know if I'm letting the cat out of the bag but I was invited back for Old-Timer's Day," Torre said Thursday evening at George Steinbrenner Field. "So maybe now they'll withdraw the invitation."

He was joking, of course. Making the rounds of spring training camps as part of his duties as a newly appointed vice president of operations for Major League Baseball, Torre dropped in on the Yankees Thursday afternoon and visited his successor, Joe Girardi, in his office.

He also greeted general manager Brian Cashman, the man who accompanied him on his last trip to this complex, in 2007, the one that ended with Torre returning to New York, unaccompanied and unemployed, after a contentious meeting with George, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and team president Randy Levine.

In turn, a stream of Torre's ex-players paid tribute to him, including Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano and Russell Martin, who played for Torre at his next stop in Los Angeles.

"It's a little strange," Torre said of his impromptu return. "But it feels good. You wish at the time I left it could have ended differently, but I don't know if it could have, because I don't know if either one of us knew how to say goodbye at that point in time. But I wouldn't have changed a thing, to be honest with you."

Torre said that unlike his return to the Stadium last July, this one was dry-eyed. He also, of course, had seen many of his ex-players for three games last June when the Yankees traveled to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers.

"I don't think the emotion will ever go out of it, because of what these 12 years meant to me," he said. "But it's not sad by any stretch of the imagination. It was a great run, and you can't appreciate the good times unless there's some bumps along the way. The last three years were stressful for me but that's all part of it."

According to a team source, Debbie Tymon, the Yankees' senior VP of marketing, suggested inviting Torre back this year to Hal and Hank Steinbrenner. "We all agreed right away," the source said. "He's a Yankee. There are no issues. We're all happy about it."

Asked if he would wear the familiar No. 6 he wore on his uniform during his 12-year run as manager, Torre joked, "Whatever they'll give me. As long as they don't ask me to play. That's one thing I never did in a Yankee uniform."

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.