Lou Piniella, saying he finds desk work too confining, resigned as general manager of the New York Yankees, the team said Sunday.

"Lou remains with Yankees," said Harvey Greene, the club's public relations director. "This is just a restructuring of his responsibilities as he sees fit."When he was given the job, (Owner George) Steinbrenner told him to see how he liked it and if he wanted to change some of his responsibilities down the road, then they'd sit down and talk about it."

Greene, speaking from the team's hotel in Seattle, said Piniella asked Steinbrenner last week to spend more time in player evaluation and less time doing daily desk work, especially contracts.

There have been reports of an increasingly strained relationship between Piniella and Billy Martin, who replaced Piniella as Yankee manager this year.

Martin says he had no trouble with Piniella.

"He was beautiful to work with, he never bothered me one bit," Martin said. "He knew what the manager goes through here. There was not one problem, he's been great.

The New York Daily News reported Sunday Piniella reached his decision to relinquish the GM job following a meeting last Monday with Steinbrenner. The paper, relying on team sources, said the final factor in Piniella's decision came following the demotion of outfielder Roberto Kelly to Columbus of the International League. According to the sources, Martin, after reportedly approving the decision, criticized the move to the media.

"Every move he made I thought was a good move," Martin said, "he knows talent. From what I've been told, he doesn't like the administrative part, which I can understand.

"I've talked to Mr. Steinbrenner about some things and we're working out something that will be mutually satisfactory to both of us," Piniella told the News from Columbus.

"It's no secret that I haven't been totally happy being up there in the front office. I want to make it clear that my main reason for wanting to do this was because I just found the general manager's job too confining after 26 years of being on the field. I'm looking forward now to getting out of the office and doing some of the things I haven't been able to do."

Piniella will be replaced by Bob Quinn, vice president of administration, although Quinn will not be given full authority to complete trades.

Piniella, a former player and manager for two years of the Yankees, was named general manager Oct. 19, the same day Martin was brought back as manager. Piniella had a well-documented falling out with Steinbrenner late last season, and Piniella's move upstairs was viewed as a demotion.

Piniella has received much credit for offseason maneuvers that had the Yankees 1 1/2 games ahead in the American League East entering Sunday.

He signed free agents Jack Clark and John Candelaria, the team's designated hitter and top pitcher, respectively. Piniella also made trades for pitcher Rich Dotson, catcher Don Slaught and shortstop Rafael Santana.

"Lou said he just wants to concentrate more on player evaluation and procurement, which he feels are his major strengths," Greene said. "I guess he feels some aspects of the job are less enjoyable than others and he feels he can do a better job if he concentrates on building the team."