06/14/2003 9:24 PM ET
Torre not concerned
The Yankees started the season 20-4, and the headlines gushed. The Yankees are five games below .500 in their last 43 games. So, naturally, in New York, some reports have turned more speculative.
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
Predictably, that goes with Joe Torre's territory as manager of the team that gets more headlines than any other in the sports world's biggest media market.
The Newark Star-Ledger created the latest pregame buzz in the Bronx with a story Saturday that suggested Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has contemplated taking significant measures to address the Yankees' up-and-down performance.
While visiting with reporters before the first pitch against visiting St. Louis, Torre was asked whether he has concerns related to his status.
"I don't think about it," Torre said. "The only feel I get is questions
(from the media). I don't listen to radio shows or read (Yankees-related) stories, but my sisters do. When I talk to them, I can feel their uneasiness. I don't like
losing, and I'm uncomfortable when we lose, but not about my job. The losing
doesn't make me fearful of losing my job."
Steinbrenner clarified in the newspaper on Friday night that a previously reported, supposed unreturned phone call from Torre turned out to be a non-issue, a simple "misunderstanding."
"I wanted to talk to him," Steinbrenner told the Star-Ledger. "I called him. He was out with his daughter. That made it all right. Everything is all right. I don't have a problem with Joe at all. I'm 100 percent behind him."
When it's the Yankees, when it's New York, these kinds of incremental stories extend a few news cycles, as journalists ask inevitable follow-up questions, as day-to-day developments unfold, and, of course, as newsmakers speak.
Steinbrenner and Torre met in the manager's office on Thursday morning, an
hour or so before the Yankees' game against Houston -- hours after the Astros' improbable no-hitter in a series that, despite Wednesday night's 8-0 black eye, the Yankees went out and won, two games to one. Saturday, Torre characterized the meeting with his employer as "positive."
"A conversation like that was basically for me to say some things, that's all," Torre said. "It wasn't a venting session, it was just a conversation. It was a positive meeting."
Torre said that his relationship with Steinbrenner is the same as it has always been.
"I don't think things have changed in the eight years I've been here, but
the public has gotten more of a taste of it over the last month," the manager said. "There's always pressure, but the fact that it's been publicized over
the past four or five weeks is different.
"As far as me, I've been fired a few times, so I guess I've learned how to act in times of stress. You can only control so much, and if you start managing according to what other people think you should be doing to try to save your job, you won't do it that way."
When asked by a reporter whether he is comfortable in his current relationship with
Steinbrenner, Torre answered:
"Comfortable? I'm not sure that's a word you'd ever use, because I don't think that's ever been the case. When I took this job, I knew that I would be proving myself every day. Because you win one year doesn't mean the next year you get a free pass. You have to continue to do that. I don't think our relationship has changed one bit."
So there you have it. When the Yankees are in a slump, it is accurate to suggest it ought not to continue.
Since the hitless Wednesday against Houston, the Yankees have won three straight games, including Roger Clemens' 300th on Friday. Entering play on Saturday, the Yankees had a half-game lead atop the American League East. Torre intends to do his best, he said, to have the team in first come September, as he knows -- as any manager knows -- the owner wants.
"That's what this job is all about," Torre said. "He's driven by winning. That's the bottom line."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.