NEW YORK The New York Yankees put off their meetings on Joe Torre's future until next week.
The meetings are likely to start Monday night or Tuesday, and they probably will be held at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla.
Torre will not be asked to attend the start of the session, when owner George Steinbrenner, his sons and top aides will discuss whether to bring the manager back for a 13th season which would be the longest run for a baseball manager in New York since Joe McCarthy was in the Yankees' dugout from 1931-46.
Steinbrenner said last weekend that he didn't think the Yankees would keep Torre if the team failed to advance from its first-round series with Cleveland. New York was eliminated in four games by the Indians, the Yankees' third straight opening-round exit, but Steinbrenner has been silent on Torre's fate.
Since the Yankees' season ended Monday, New York players, politicians and even opponents have urged Steinbrenner to retain the affable 67-year-old New York native. Boston designated hitter David Ortiz was among the latest to speak out."Every organization is like a human body. It has a head that if you mess with it, it just goes down," Ortiz said. "Joe Torre is the head of that organization. He's one of the best managers in baseball. You've got to have a good head to keep the body together like that."
BRAVES GM STEPS ASIDE: At Atlanta, John Schuerholz stepped aside as general manager of the Atlanta Braves on Thursday to become team president after assembling teams that won a record 14 straight division titles and the 1995 World Series championship. Schuerholz, who turned 67 last week, remains second in command to chairman Terry McGuirk but will step away from day-to-day personnel decisions, such as trades, free-agent signings and other roster moves. Assistant general manager Frank Wren, a former GM with the Baltimore Orioles, moves up to replace Schuerholz after spending eight years as his assistant.
PHILLIES DECLINE OPTIONS: The Philadelphia Phillies declined a $5 million option on catcher Rod Barajas on Thursday and $2.5 million option on third baseman Abraham Nunez. Barajas, who gets a $500,000 buyout, was signed last December with the hope that he would become the starting catcher. Instead, he slumped at the plate, battled injuries and hit only .230 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 48 games. Nunez, known for his solid glove, hit .234 with 16 RBIs for the NL East champs. He gets a $300,000 buyout.
OPTS FOR FREE AGENCY: Right-hander Kirk Saarloos refused an assignment to the minors on Thursday, choosing to leave the Cincinnati Reds and become a free agent. Infielder Mark Bellhorn and outfielder Jason Ellison also refused outright assignments to the minors and became free agents. Cincinnati acquired Saarloos from Oakland in a trade last January. He went 1-5 with a 7.17 ERA in 31 relief appearances and three starts for Cincinnati.
MARTINEZ HIRED; ZIMMER RETURNING: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays hired Dave Martinez as bench coach and announced that senior adviser Don Zimmer will return next year for his 50th season as a major league player, coach or manager. Martinez, who played for the Devil Rays from 1998-2000, replaced Bill Evers. Zimmer, 76, has been with the Devil Rays for four years.