Joe Torre didn’t wait too long to return to the dugout.
The former veteran manager and current Major League Baseball executive was introduced today by USA Baseball as manager for Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Torre is in his second year serving as MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations and will be making his debut in a Team USA uniform when the third installment of the WBC kicks off next spring.
“It was a privilege to be asked because this is a once-every-few-years situation and I really appreciate the confidence that the USA is showing in me,” Torre said.
Baseball fans need no introduction to Torre, whose distinguished baseball career has included 17 seasons as a player and 29 more as a manger. Torre was a nine-time all-star and the 1971 National League MVP with the Cardinals. He is fifth on the all-time managerial wins list with 2,326 victories. After starting his managing career with the Mets and later the Braves, Torre went on to guide the Yankees to four World Series titles and six American League pennants. He managed the Dodgers for three seasons before retiring in 2010.
“Joe’s track record as a manager speaks for itself, and we’re excited to have his leadership in place as we attempt to secure our first World Baseball Classic title,” USA Baseball executive director/CEO Paul Seiler said.
Now that Torre has been named manager, talk will turn to how he plans to fill out his roster. Fortunately for Torre, he does not have a lack of big league stars to choose from, some young and others with more experience.
“You want people that you feel will blend together and help in what you want to accomplish,” Torre said. “I envision that we’ll do a combination of youth and experience because 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 that have really gotten people’s attention here the last few years.”
As a former manager, Torre understands the wariness that many big league clubs will have about sending their best players to compete just before the start of the major league season.
“I’m very sensitive to the feelings of the managers and general managers and I want to make sure that I can convince them that I can take good care of their players,” Torre said. “We want to win, that’s a given . . . But I think I’m going to have to give the players back in better shape than when they left because they’ll be getting ready to start the season shortly thereafter.”
Baseball fans are certainly bound to wonder whether one of those players might be Derek Jeter, who played for Torre with the Yankees for several seasons and is a former Team USA participant.
“Obviously Derek is special. Everything he does, he only does one way and that’s to go out there and do the best he can and try to win a ball game,” Torre said. “But right now I’m more in the thoughtful process of trying to put a staff together and once we do that we’ll go after what we think would be a good roster.”
Torre will continue with his duties for MLB, which include overseeing umpires and discipline, even while coaching Team USA—a task that he joked may create a conflict of interest.
“I’m going to have to be careful when I argue with umpires (at the WBC) . . . I may have to bring them a drink of water or something.”