Sports Briefs

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2003

Sources: ACC leaders to pursue Virginia Tech

RICHMOND, Va. Atlantic Coast Conference presidents have asked Virginia Tech to consider joining three other Big East schools in jumping to the ACC as part of its expansion plan, two sources told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

The sources spoke to The AP on the condition they not be identified.

The decision to add Virginia Tech was made during a three-hour teleconference of the nine league presidents on Wednesday after it appeared that the original expansion involving Miami, Boston College and Syracuse would not get the required seven votes for approval, a government source with knowledge of the talks said.

The suggestion to reconsider the Hokies was made by Virginia president John T. Casteen III, who has supported including Virginia Tech in the plan throughout. After the Hokies were first rejected last month, he pledged to continue pushing for their inclusion.

Titans release middle linebacker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Middle linebacker Randall Godfrey was released Wednesday by the Tennessee Titans, freeing up salary-cap room to re-sign three other veterans. The Titans had tried to keep Godfrey and reworked his contract in February.

But the Titans also want to keep punter Craig Hentrich, backup quarterback Neil O'Donnell and center Gennaro DiNapoli, and they didn't have enough money to bring back all four. Cutting Godfrey will free up more than $2 million under the cap.

Seattle closer has two hairline rib fractures

SEATTLE Seattle Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaki has two fractured ribs and a slightly torn abdominal muscle, an MRI showed Wednesday. Two earlier X-rays failed to disclose the injuries.

Team officials couldn't say how long the injuries will keep him sidelined, though Sasaki probably won't be examined again until the Mariners return late next week from a trip to Anaheim and San Diego.

Torre asks for more credit for Yankees success

NEW YORK New York Yankees manager Joe Torre wants a pat on the back now and then from owner George Steinbrenner and believes his boss can sometimes be a distraction for the team.

''At times I'd like (him to) just give me a little more credit that I know what I'm doing,'' Torre told the Fox News Channel show ''Your World,'' according to a transcript of an interview broadcast Wednesday.

Torre also told Fox that he was not pleased with Steinbrenner's public criticism of shortstop Derek Jeter and the Yankees' coaches.

''Conversations happen all the time,'' the manager said. ''Over the 7 1/2 years I've been here, they continue to happen, but it's never been as public as it has been this year. It started last year when we lost to Anaheim. He was very upset and I was, too. And then he got on Jeter ... he got on my coaches. The change is he went public with a lot of it and it's gotten in the newspaper.

''George Steinbrenner wants to win. There's nothing wrong with that.''

Steinbrenner complained last winter that Jeter was staying out late too often, but the owner ended up making a TV commercial with the shortstop, parodying the criticism.

The Yankees have won four World Series titles in Torre's seven seasons as manager. He was asked his opinion of his boss.

''At times I think he's OK,'' he said. ''I like that he gave me the opportunity to do this. You can't pick and choose the part of your boss that you want to keep. You have to take the whole package or walk away.''

Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone said Steinbrenner was not available for comment.

Before the Yankees played the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Wednesday night, Torre maintained his comments included nothing he hasn't said before.

''The appreciation I get is from what goes on in the field,'' Torre said. ''I'm used to what goes on behind closed doors. It's been more public lately, but that doesn't mean it hasn't gone on before. It just means I have to answer more questions about it, which is fine.''

Torre complained earlier this season when pitcher Jose Contreras was sent to the organization's minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., after the manager told the rookie pitcher he would be going to the team's Triple-A farm club in Columbus, Ohio. The change was apparently ordered by Steinbrenner.

Contreras eventually went to Columbus, then was recalled by the Yankees and now is on the team's 15-day disabled list.

After a loss to Boston on Memorial Day, Steinbrenner said it was up to Torre to figure out how to turn the team around. Last Thursday, the day after the Yankees were no-hit by a record six Houston pitchers, Steinbrenner met with the manager for about 30 minutes in Torre's office.

Torre said the public flaps with his boss recently have led to players and the manager's family asking about his welfare.

''My concern wasn't the way it affects me, but people around me, like my sisters. They read the paper and listen to the radio and they're concerned about me,'' Torre said.

''I've had several players come up with several questions like, 'Are you OK?' That's when I know that it's gotten really into a place I don't want it to be in the clubhouse. I try to keep as many distractions out of the clubhouse as possible.''

General manager Brian Cashman declined comment.

''Whether I'm on the hot seat or sitting in pretty good shape, my work ethic is the same,'' Torre said. ''It's nice to have the owner say he's satisfied with what you're doing, but I'm still driven.

''My only concern in this whole thing is that for the first time in a long time, it started to infiltrate into the clubhouse. Players' minds were somewhere besides on the field, which is where I try to keep them.''

Despite the public disagreements, Torre said his relationship with Steinbrenner hasn't changed at all.

''I respect the fact that he's my boss, but we don't socialize or anything. I don't think we get along any different than we did a couple of years ago,'' Torre said. ''I didn't say anything today that I haven't said before. I tried to be as honest as possible.''

Torre said he will continue to manage the Yankees the way he sees fit.

''I have to do it my way because it's the only way I know,'' he said.

And he isn't worried about getting fired.

''The fact that we've had a lot of success here made me not concerned about it. I'll do my job right until the time that somebody doesn't want me to do it anymore,'' Torre said. ''I've been fired three times. In a lot less secure situations than I have here, I've never let it affect me. It's stuff I have no control over.''

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