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Torre arrives at Legends Field

TAMPA, Fla. — Joe Torre, the subject of two days of meetings involving Yankees' brass, arrived at Legends Field on Thursday for face-to-face talks with the team.

Torre traveled to Tampa from New York with general manager Brian Cashman and chief operating officer Lonn Trost.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, sons Hal and Hank, and team president Randy Levine also were at the team's spring training complex. Torre's arrival first was reported by the New York Post.

"More meetings. We're working on it," Levine said earlier Thursday.

With nothing to announce on Torre, Cashman and Trost returned to New York on Wednesday evening. At the time, they gave no indication they would return the next day — accompanied by the manager.

"We hold Joe Torre in the highest regard and, obviously, that's why we're taking the time ... to determine what's best for us as we move forward and whether he's a part of that or not," Cashman said Wednesday.

Cashman wouldn't give any timing for a final say on Torre, whose $19.2 million, three-year contract expires Oct. 31. He said that if the decision is made to keep Torre, "then there's a negotiation. ... And that takes time. It's as simple as that."

"As long as it takes," Cashman said, "So give it the time it needs."

While the team's top officials met in Florida, some fans signed a petition Wednesday at a "Save Joe Torre" rally near Times Square in New York.

Steinbrenner did not comment — he hasn't discussed Torre's future publicly since he told The Record of Hackensack, N.J., on Oct. 6 that he didn't think he'd bring back Torre if the Yankees failed to advance to the AL championship series. Cleveland then eliminated New York in four games, the Yankees' third straight first-round exit.

The Yankees also have not yet reached out to Ray Schulte, the agent for bench coach Don Mattingly, who is the leading contender to take over if Torre doesn't return.

Cashman did indicate a subtle shift in the Yankees' power structure. Asked whether the 77-year-old owner will pick the manager, the general manager responded: "The Boss owns the franchise, so obviously, the Boss, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner are obviously the ownership group that I answer to."

Before Wednesday's afternoon meeting, there was a morning session that also included senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer and special adviser Gene Michael.

Cashman said the Yankees are maintaining their position that they will not negotiate with Alex Rodriguez if he terminates his $252 million, 10-year contract.

Rodriguez, who has three seasons left on the deal, must decide by the 10th day following the World Series.

"I can reaffirm that, if Alex Rodriguez opts out of his contract, then we will not participate in his free agency," Cashman said. "That is accurate and that is definitive."

Rodriguez met for three days this week in California with his agent, Scott Boras, to determine his strategy.

"He said he's comfortable playing in New York and enjoys it," Boras said. "However he has a right available to him that is solely in his discretion."

A determination also has not been made on Torre's coaches. That will come after there's a decision on the manager.