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Torre belongs in Monument Park

Bloom: Torre belongs in Monument Park

NEW YORK -- Now that Joe Torre is back in the Yankees' good graces, it can't take too much longer for the ballclub to retire his No. 6 and place it in Monument Park, where it belongs.

"I think it [should happen], for what he's done and what he's meant to this organization," said Andy Pettitte, the left-handed pitcher who emerged with the Yankees during the years when Torre first started his 12-year run as New York's manager. "It would be awfully cool to see that [number] out there."

Torre -- with his 12 consecutive years in the playoffs, four World Series victories and six American League pennants -- is certainly among the top managers in Yankees history. There's Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel and Torre.

Huggins has a monument, the first one erected on the playing field at the original Yankee Stadium after he died in 1929. McCarthy and Stengel both have plaques. The Yankees have retired 16 numbers, including those worn by some of the greatest players and managers in baseball history. Just having the number retired for Torre would be a good start.

If there was a perceived rift between the parties after Torre's 2007 departure from the club, those cracks seem to have been mended.

In the wake of principal owner George Steinbrenner's passing, Torre was invited to Monday's ceremony, during which the monument in honor of the Boss was unveiled. Torre was moved. The crowd of 47,437 responded with enthusiasm when Torre's visage was placed on the center-field video screen.

Torre met with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and chatted with current principal owner Hal Steinbrenner. Cashman and Torre talked through old grievances, Cashman said. For the young Steinbrenner, there were apparently no problems to discuss.

"I don't know about anybody else, but I never had any hard feelings for Joe Torre," Steinbrenner told MLB.com on Tuesday night. "I was glad to see him back here last night."

Part of the issue throughout the last three seasons is that Torre has still been active, having managed the Dodgers while the Yankees were reloading to win last year's World Series. Torre's announcement that he'll walk away as manager of the Dodgers at season's end came on Friday, the same day that Lonn Trost, the Yankees' chief operating officer, extended the invitation for Torre to return.

The other component is the manner in which Torre left New York, shunning a one-year, incentive-laden offer to return to manage the Yankees in 2008. Torre wanted a two-year deal. The organization was about to turn over from George to his two sons; it was a different time, and brothers Hank and Hal wanted to determine how everything would fit. Torre didn't see it that way.

In the news conference immediately following his departure from New York, Torre showed the entire world he had been wounded. There were the words in his book -- whether penned by Torre or co-author Tom Verducci -- which substantiated those feelings.

"When I left, that was a very dark time for me," Torre explained on Monday. "But it means a lot to be back here and walk on that field, even though I didn't work on that field. It's the pinstripes. It's Yankee Stadium. I got an opportunity to manage here, which made my whole career."

Torre was never persona non grata around the Yankees, Steinbrenner said, although some thought that was the case when the old Yankee Stadium closed on Sept. 21, 2008. Torre was managing elsewhere, and his name was barely mentioned during the festivities. That offseason, Torre said he was invited to the event during which home plate was dug up in the old yard and moved across 161st Street to the new one. But fund-raising activities prevented Torre from being present.

"I was going to come to that," Torre said. "I'm not shying away from being here. I worked like hell to get us here last October. I just wasn't good enough."

Torre was referring to a much-anticipated Dodgers-Yankees rematch last fall in the World Series. But for a second offseason in succession, the Dodgers lost to the Phillies in a five-game National League Championship Series. It was the Phillies who then lost to the Yankees in six games.

In recent days, Torre has talked around the subject of leaving managing behind, choosing his words carefully.

"I really don't anticipate I'm going to manage," Torre said. "When the season's over, if the phone rings a number of times, I'll listen, because I'm just curious what's out there. But I'm really more interested in options outside of managing."

If Torre, now 70, remains retired from the dugout, it's not outlandish to believe that a day at Yankee Stadium in his honor, including the retirement of his No. 6, will eventually be in the offing.

"There's no doubt that this is all part of the healing process," Pettitte said. "Obviously, the organization wanted him back. Obviously, you know how the fans feel about him. The healing process has already begun and is probably done, to tell you the truth."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["columnist_barry_m_bloom" ] }
{"content":["columnist_barry_m_bloom" ] }