NEW YORK (AP) – When Joe Torre arrived to board a private plane that would take him to his meeting with George Steinbrenner, he wasn’t sure of his future.

“If I sensed that they were thinking something different than I was, we were going to have to find a way to split up,” he said Tuesday.

Then, while Monday’s takeoff was delayed for an hour by mechanical problems, Yankees president Randy Levine told him: “We want you back.”

“That sort of broke the ice,” Torre said.

After meeting with Steinbrenner for 45 minutes to an hour in Tampa, Fla., Torre was sure he wanted to return for his 11th season as Yankees manager.

“We didn’t use the word love, but it was pretty warm,” Torre said. “It was something more than cordial.”

Leaving New York’s minor league complex Tuesday, Steinbrenner praised Torre.

“It makes me feel very good. It really does,” Steinbrenner said. “He’s a good man. I like him. I understand him. I understand what he’s after. I’m very happy to have him.”

Steinbrenner hopes general manager Brian Cashman stays, too. Cashman’s contract expires at the end of the month.

Asked whether he thought there was a good possibility Cashman would stay on the job, Steinbrenner responded: “I do.”

Torre, who has managed New York to eight straight AL East titles, didn’t want to make a decision in the aftermath of the Yankees’ elimination on Oct. 10 because he was exhausted. He described his mind last week as “scrambled eggs” and spent several days with his family.

thinking over his future.

“I realize I still want to do this thing. I still want to manage,” he said. “There’s only one place to manage in my estimation. It’s been the best time I’ve ever had, these 10 years.”

Torre led New York to four World Series titles in his first five seasons, but the Yankees have not won the World Series since 2000. He has two years remaining on his contract and is owed $13.1 million.

“The rewards are so enormous that it’s certainly worth what you put in here. That’s why I’m back here,” Torre said. “I mean, sure, I get paid a lot of money. Damn right, I enjoy that part of it. But if it wasn’t for the nature of what I do, that wouldn’t even have been enough to have me continue doing this.”

Torre contacted Cashman and general partner Steve Swindal – Steinbrenner’s son-in-law – on Saturday to suggest the meeting. Torre and Levine traveled from Westchester County Airport for the session with Steinbrenner, which also was attended by Swindal.

“I just wanted to pretty much clear the air on everything that was part of my unhappiness or anger or whatever you want to call it, frustration. I guess you can put all those things under the same heading,” Torre said. “I just wanted to pretty much, for my own satisfaction, to find out if he still trusts me with his team.”

He was angered by Steinbrenner’s public criticisms during the season, especially when the owner bashed pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who is leaving, and second-guessed Torre’s decision to have left-hander Alan Embree pitch to Paul Konerko of the White Sox on Aug. 9. Konerko hit a solo homer that gave Chicago a two-run lead in a 2-1 win.

“It just rubbed me the wrong way,” Torre said, “I’m a year older. I’m a year crankier. It could have been the combination of the two.

He said the criticism became “very personal.” His wife, Ali, noticed how it bothered him.

“He was jumpy, irritable,” she said.

Dissent within the Yankees organization developed as the team got off to an 11-19 start, its worst since 1966. New York didn’t clinch the division until the next-to-last day of the regular season and finished 95-67.

“It wasn’t a lot of fun,” Torre told Steinbrenner.

“Yeah, it wasn’t,” he said Steinbrenner responded.

Given all that, Torre said he needed “to hear that they want me to do what I do.”

“I had to not only hear it,” he said, “but hear the tone in which it was said.”

Torre said the availability of former Yankees manager Lou Piniella, who left the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, wasn’t discussed.

“If George wants Lou or anybody else to manage, that’s certainly his prerogative,” Torre said.

When he first became manager of the Yankees, Torre talked with Steinbrenner quite often. During this year, he thought “we really disconnected basically.”

“I think I’m going to have to make more of an effort to make calls on a regular basis if something’s going to get me upset or angry or whatever,” Torre said.

He could do without the stress, but understands Steinbrenner won’t change. But he does love being manager of the Yankees.

“It comes at a price tag,” Torre said.


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