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A Torre-Jeter reunion in 2012 WBC? Plenty of decisions to make

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
Joe Torre, whose duties as executive vice-president of baseball operations already include overseeing umpires and reviewing disputed official scoring decisions, now adds one more job to his bucket:

Managing Team USA next March in the World Baseball Classic, a tournament in which the United States has never finished higher than fourth.

"I'm going to have to be careful when I argue with the umpires," Torre quipped on a conference call Thursday afternoon shortly after his selection as manager was announced. "I may have to bring them a drink of water or something."

Torre's other duties for Commissioner Bud Selig will not cease. Rather, he'll be one extremely busy 72-year-old "retiree."

And though Davey Johnson, 69, wound up parlaying the WBC managing gig in 2009 -- Team USA was eliminated in the semi-finals -- into a re-entry into the majors piloting the Nationals, Torre says he has no aspirations to do the same.

He's done as full-time manager, he said.

"First of all, I don't miss it," Torre said. "So the question could be, 'Why are you doing this?' This is certainly different.

"What happens managing a big-league ballclub is it's a commitment for 12 months a year. I didn't feel I could give people a fair shake in doing that. This is an opportunity, once presented, I felt honored by. I have no ambition to audition for another job."

Winning the WBC and returning players to their original clubs in "better" shape than he took them will be his two priorities, Torre said.

"I think I'm going to have to give them back players in better shape than when they left because they'll be ready to start the season," Torre said. "My priority is to make sure I can assure the managers of that. ... I was always skeptical when my players left me, because I lost control over them. ...

"I have to make sure managers and general managers know that [their players] will be in shape and a little further along than when we took them because it will be later in spring training."

Torre has yet to name a coaching staff, let alone pick a team. He acknowledged the potential for a reunion with shortstop Derek Jeter, the captain during Torre's Yankees years.

"Obviously, Derek is special," Torre said. "Everything he does, he does one way: Go out do the best he can to try and win a ballgame."

Beyond Jeter, the thought of the Nationals' Bryce Harper and the Angels' Mike Trout in the same outfield is tantalizing. But we're a long way away from locking in combinations.

"I've always been a believer that experience is very important to any winning ballclub, but you certainly can't ignore the number of young players who have really gotten people's attention here in last few years," Torre said. "I'm really looking to put a roster together that makes sense. You can pick all names people recognize, but when you try and make it work on the field, that's when you may run into trouble."
 
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