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TAMPA, Fla. -- It appears Joe Torre wants to manage Alex Rodriguez for more than one season.
The New York Post is reporting that the New York Yankees are on the verge of signing Torre to a two-year contract extension worth up to $16 million.
"I'm interested in doing this again," Torre told the Post.
Entering the final year of a three-year, $16 million deal, Torre had said he would probably wait until after the 2004 season to decide if he wanted to remain as Yankees manager.
But that stance apparently has changed. The 62-year-old Torre met with Yankees general partner Steve Swindal earlier in the week to begin negotiations on a contract extension.
"I just love the players and the game itself," Torre told the Post. "I am looking forward to the job every day. I am not ready to pack it in. I'm just happy I feel the way I do."
"I am very encouraged that things are going well," said Swindall, the son-in-law of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. "We have clearly made progress. He has made strong indications now he wants to manage the Yankees beyond this year and we want him back unequivocally."
The acquisition of Rodriguez, the reigning American League MVP, from Texas last month may have helped to initiate a thaw in the icy relationship that existed between Torre and Steinbrenner.
Both battled last year over the handling of Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras, and Steinbrenner criticized Torre's coaching staff. Bench coach Don Zimmer quit last October because he said he was "mistreated" by Steinbrenner. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre admitted to feeling "personally abused" and pondered retirement before deciding to return.
Torre led New York to four World Series titles in his first five years at the helm from 1996-2000. Over the last three years, he has guided the Yanks to two more World Series appearances, but they lost to Arizona in 2001 and to Florida last season.
Torre has taken the Yankees to the playoffs in each of his eight seasons, compiling a record of 786-506 and 66-33 in the postseason.
Earlier this spring, Steinbrenner left no doubt he wants Torre to be his manager.
"We'd like to keep him ... sure would," Steinbrenner said Saturday. "I want Joe to be happy and satisfied. Right now I just want to leave Joe to his own pace. When he's ready, he'll make up his mind and that's good enough for me."
Steinbrenner said he's happier than he has ever been because of the way the Yankees are going about their business this spring.
"I'm certainly at rest with what's happening on the field," Steinbrenner said. "I like the look of everything we're doing. They're not thinking about anything but getting prepared for the season.
"They know what I expect. I don't have to be on them every moment. I don't say they have to win every day, but let them not perform to their maximum and then they're going to hear about it."
Information from SportsTicker and The Associated Press was used in this report.