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Joe Torre can't put controversy on the shelf

In an interview with CNN's Larry King, the Dodgers manager doesn't directly address what could be a key issue: Whether his tell-all book about Yankees will affect his relationship with his current players.

January 31, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre didn't directly address whether his controversial new book about the New York Yankees would affect his relationship with his current team during an appearance Friday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"I think that's a great question," said Torre, who revealed his contract with the Dodgers does not include a confidentiality clause. "I say I hope so because they don't want you to write a book unless you win a championship. So hopefully we'll have that issue later on."

Torre was more open about the Dodgers' desire to re-sign All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez, saying, "We're trying, we're trying. I spoke to Manny a couple of times just to let him know we definitely want him. I know Russell Martin has spoken to him. Hopefully, we can get something done. We'll see."

The hourlong interview with King was part of a tour to promote "The Yankee Years," which was co-written by Torre and Tom Verducci and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the Yankees that has enraged the club Torre managed for 12 seasons. King, a Dodgers season-ticket holder and a fervent fan, was presented a blue coffee mug by Torre, who said it was a gift from Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt.

In "The Yankee Years," Torre writes about how his professional relationship with General Manager Brian Cashman disintegrated and offers critical opinions of several of his former players.

Torre, who was listed as "Author Joe Torre" in the program's description on Time Warner Cable, said he agreed to the project two years ago and denied that did so for monetary reasons.

Because of the way it chronicles the changes in baseball over his years as Yankees manager (1996-2007), Torre said, "To me, this book is going to sit on the shelves. It's going to be a piece of history."

Torre said he was "shocked" by the public's initial reaction to the release of excerpts from the book but was confident opinions would change once people read it.

"It certainly wasn't my intention to shock anybody with the stuff in this book," he said. "I just wanted to maybe put a heartbeat on some of these players that people think are robotic and basically tell the story and tell people my feelings."

When King cited reports that the book might prompt the Yankees to consider asking for confidentiality clauses in future contracts with managers and coaches, Torre said, "They've done that before. They've asked coaches and they've asked me as part of it to not write a book."

So is Torre violating a clause that was in one of his Yankees contracts?

"I never agreed to it," Torre said.

Torre stood behind his published observations that Alex Rodriguez wanted to be the center of attention and was overly self-conscious. Later in the interview, he said Rodriguez was the best athlete he's ever managed.

Among the players criticized in the book is David Wells. The retired pitcher said on 710 AM Thursday that he was fined $165,000 by the Yankees for writing his own tell-all book six years ago and called Torre "a punk" for violating baseball's unwritten code of clubhouse secrecy.

"I'm kind of like blown away because of the fact that he's coming out and he's bashing," Wells said. "He's not hiding anything. He's bashing. . . . If you had that many problems with those guys, why didn't you face them while they were there? . . . When you write a book you don't go bashing everybody because it's easy to bash when you're gone."

Torre said he wasn't bothered by Wells' criticism.

"Boomer and I have always had this type of relationship," Torre said.

When King said Torre did not like Kevin Brown, the manager responded, "That's not true. I said they [Wells and Brown] both drove you nuts, except Kevin Brown didn't mean to and Boomer did."

Near the end of the interview, Torre talked about Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras.

"Scott Boras, I've known for a long time," he said. "We were both in the Cardinals organization. I'm a lot older than Scott. He's a very tough man, very tough agent. He does a good job for his clients and just as I said, I hope we can find some middle ground here somewhere."

Torre said the book shouldn't be a cause for concern if the Dodgers fail to sign Ramirez and attempt to land former Yankees outfielder Bobby Abreu instead, saying that he didn't write anything negative about Abreu.


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