NEW YORK - Deciding Joe Torre's fate might take the New York Yankees longer than their playoff run.
Meetings on the manager's future won't start until Friday at the earliest and might not even begin until next week. Even the site of the sessions hasn't been definitely set, although they probably will take place at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla.
New York was eliminated Monday by the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees' third straight exit in the first round. Owner George Steinbrenner's flight home to Tampa on Tuesday was delayed by weather, and he didn't arrive until late. He was not seen at Legends Field on Wednesday.
Since Steinbrenner said last weekend that he didn't think Torre would remain if the Yankees failed to advance, players have urged the 77-year-old owner to retain the manager who helped New York overcome a 21-29 start and reach the playoffs for the 13th straight year.
"I don't feel good about it,'' closer Mariano Rivera said Wednesday in the Yankees' box-filled clubhouse. "I don't see why they're even thinking (about letting Torre go). I wish he's back, definitely. If you ask me what I would want, I want him back.''
Rivera, a major key during the team's run of four titles from 1996-2000, is eligible to become a free agent. He said the decision on Torre will be part of his decision.
"It might do a lot of it,'' he said. "I mean, I've been with Joe for so many years, and the kind of person he has been for me and for my teammates, it's been great. The thing is that I don't see why they have to put him in this position.''
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Rivera plans to speak with Torre soon.
"I'm an optimist, so hopefully nothing happens and he stays here,'' Rivera said.
Bench coach Don Mattingly is viewed as the likely favorite to succeed Torre if there is a change, with broadcaster Joe Girardi and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa also possibilities.
"I love Joe. Joe's unbelievable,'' said outfielder Shelley Duncan, back at the ballpark for the second straight day. "Everybody on this team will tell you the same thing. He really cares about us as people.''
Duncan's father, Dave, is La Russa's longtime pitching coach.
"I don't know what Tony's going to do,'' Duncan said. "Right now the Cardinals are a mess. They don't have a GM. I just really try to stay away from the rumors with Tony and my dad.''
Rookie Joba Chamberlain was more noncommittal than most of his teammates.
"You have to understand that that's part of the game,'' Chamberlain said. "I haven't been here too long, but I understand what goes on. My point of view doesn't really matter.''
The Yankees briefly barred reporters from some New York papers from entering the stadium on Wednesday until their photographers left the area by Torre's house in suburban Harrison, team spokesman Jason Zillo said.