Tito on Torre


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Word of Joe Torre stepping down circulated quickly yesterday. Red Sox manager Terry Francona heard the news moments before last night’s game from Don Zimmer, who spent years by Torre’s side in the dugout.

Still, having a certain level of respect for a man who won four World Series and has been one of the game’s dignitaries, Francona said he hoped Torre’s choice to leave was his own.

“My only thought, I actually sent him a note last night, was that whatever he’s doing I hope he’s doing on his own terms,” Francona said. “I think he deserves that. He’s been doing it for a long time, and there’s a lot of respect from a lot of people about how he conducts himself. So I hope he’s happy with the decision he made. That’s what I care about.”

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The rumbles about Torre coming full-circle and rejoining the New York Mets, the organization that gave him his first break as a manager 33 years ago, have already started.

With Torre, 70, leaving just weeks after Lou Piniella, 67, hung it up, Francona was asked about longevity as a manager and how those two were able to last so long.

“I never really asked them that point blank,” Francona said. “I think everybody’s different. To do this job you have to be all-in. If not, it doesn’t work. When it comes to a point where you can’t be or maybe you don’t want to be, it’s time to do something else. I can see where that [has an affect] – the travel, the pressure you put on yourself to do well – I can see where that gets at you a little bit.”

Francona, 51, said he couldn’t imagine himself in the dugout at 70.

“I can’t even see myself being alive at 70,” he joked. “I’m sure I’ll be a heart attack or two into it.”

As far as stepping away from the game, he said, that’s something he’d want to be able to do on his own terms.

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“If I can’t do the job, whether it’s physically or if you’re not all in, I would never stick around,” he said. “I have to much respect for the game and the people you work for.”