Torre, Dodgers suspend extension talks
Manager doesn't want to be 'distraction' during season
PHOENIX -- Manager Joe Torre said he has suspended talks with the Dodgers on a contract extension to avoid becoming a "distraction" during the season.
"We'll wait until later on in the year," Torre said. "I mentioned that to Ned [Colletti, general manager]. I'll have a better grip of what I want to do. The last thing I want is to be a distraction. I don't want it to be talked about."
Torre said that negotiations with the club have included a significant front-office advisory role after the 2011 season and he's not sure if he'll want that kind of workload. Torre turns 70 in July.
Torre was asked whether the ongoing divorce of owner Frank McCourt and the possibility of related ownership questions led to the decision to stop the talks.
"No. It's where we are in Spring Training, with the season about to start, and I still have to decide what I want to do after managing ends," Torre said. "We're both interested in doing something. But it depends how much I want to work, and I don't know."
In Torre's book, "The Yankee Years," he co-wrote with Tom Verducci that the lack of a contract extension going into his final season was a sign that he wasn't wanted back by Yankees decision-makers at a time when an aging George Steinbrenner was no longer calling all the shots. Torre said that's not the case with the Dodgers.
"It's comfortable for me being here," he said, "and they want me back."
Colletti confirmed that the halt in talks came at Torre's suggestion.
"Joe wants to see how he feels at the end of the season and the energy he has for doing it and I respect that," said Colletti. "There should be no negative perception about this. We'll just see where he's at when the season's over."
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Torre is in the third and final year of a $13 million deal and a year ago predicted that 2010 would be his final season as a manager. But in November, he confirmed that he and the club were in talks to extend the contract for one more season.
At the Winter Meetings in December, Colletti said those talks had expanded to include the front-office role.
When the current Spring Training opened, Torre reiterated his interest in managing next season.
"When I first came aboard, they offered two years and instead I asked for a third year [not wanting to duplicate the lame-duck status he had in New York]," Torre said last month. "Now I'm looking at a fourth. As long as it's still interesting, exciting. It was a great decision on my part to continue doing this. It's been fun. At this point in time, yeah, I want another year."
Torre has managed the Dodgers to consecutive National League West titles and appearances in the NL Championship Series, the first time for the club since 1977-78. The Dodgers led the league with 95 wins in 2009, the most for the franchise since 1985. His two-year Dodgers record is 179-145. His 14 consecutive playoff appearances tied Atlanta's Bobby Cox for the all-time managerial record.
Whenever Torre steps down, the heir apparent is current hitting coach and Torre protégé Don Mattingly, who managed Sunday's game while Torre was attending to a family commitment in Los Angeles and has been allowed by Torre to game-manage all spring. Mattingly spoke with Cleveland about its managerial vacancy over the winter, then declined a chance to interview with the Washington Nationals for their vacant manager job.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.