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Joe Torre apologizes to Jerry Manuel over comments showing interest in managing Mets

September 21, 2010 |  6:50 pm

And on Tuesday, Joe Torre apologized.

Word that Torre had said in New York on Monday that he would listen if  Mets owners called to inquire about his interest in managing the team next year, naturally found their way to Mets Manager Jerry Manuel.

Manuel, naturally, and quite justifiably, was miffed.

"I don't know him on a personal basis,’’ Manuel told writers in Florida, where the Mets are playing the Marlins. "But when things like that come out or are said, you question integrity. That's what comes to my mind.’’

Tuesday, when Torre had his daily pregame meeting with reporters, he quickly backtracked, saying he would not manage the Mets, and apologized to Manuel.

"I apologize to Jerry Manuel, and all the other managers,’’ Torre said. "I don’t blame them. They don’t want to get stepped on. I think it’s the wrong thing to do and I apologize. It certainly wasn’t my intention of doing that."

Torre said flatly he would not manage the Mets.

"I’m closing the door on managing the Mets, and probably everybody else,’’ he said. "I don’t want to mislead anybody. When I leave here as a manager, that last Sunday I’m anticipating will be my last game as manager.’’

It’s been a whirlwind, somewhat chaotic and confounding past few days for Torre.

On Friday he announced he would not return to the Dodgers next season, though he was careful not to close the door on ever managing again. On Saturday a New York Post story said a close friend of Torre's claimed the Mets were the one team he would be interested in managing.  On Sunday he denied it, called it irresponsible and said, "There’s absolutely no legs to this story.’’

Then Monday he personally gave it enough legs to make a millipede envious. In New York on a Dodgers off day to honor George Steinbrenner, he was asked by ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor whether he would listen if Fred and Jeff Wilpon called him about the Mets' managerial job.

"Oh, there’s no question,’’ he said. "That is why I didn't shut the door.’’

And he added: "I'm honored, you know, that people would think of me. Not too many guys 70 years old, people would think about going somewhere as a manager.’’

I’m not sure who was thinking of him as the Mets’ next manager, other than some inquisitive media types.

What he clearly should have said was that he wasn’t going to comment on any job currently filled. The same way he did when he was asked about the Dodgers and Grady Little was still their manager.

Maybe he had the best of intentions, but Torre was caught in a quagmire of his own making.

Tuesday he saw his error, though his recollection of being asked whether he would take a call from the Wilpons seemed skewed.

"Somebody asked me if I would take a call from Fred Wilpon -- and I’ve known Fred Wilpon forever. . . . I thought I made that clear yesterday, because it was about taking a call as opposed to looking for a job.’’

It was curious, of course, why Torre would leave open the possibility of managing elsewhere. If another situation was more attractive than managing the Dodgers, speculation immediately became that it was because of the uncertain ownership situation.

He sounded more adamant Tuesday about never managing again.

"I would very seriously doubt that there would be anything that would entice me to manage again,’’ he said. "I said a number of times, this is pretty good duty here. To be in this weather, this ballpark, the Dodgers have been a storied franchise.

"I know right now there are a lot of questions regarding what’s going on. But it’s still a pretty darned good place to be. But I don’t anticipate any managerial offers or anything that would make sense for me to manage.’’

That cleared that up. At least on Tuesday.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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