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Torre defends book at his first signing session

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 10:22 AM

NEW YORK – A veteran of baseball's biggest stage, Joe Torre had his lines well rehearsed.

No, he didn't write anything controversial.

No, he didn't trash the clubhouse code.

No, no regrets.

On a snowy day in Manhattan, Torre was back in town Tuesday for his first signing session for "The Yankee Years," co-written by Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci. Fans stood in line on Fifth Avenue, and the queue snaked around the corner halfway to Madison Avenue as people waited to meet the man who still refers to the Yankees as "we."

"I don't think I violated anything. At least, that was my intention," said Torre, whose job as former Yankees manager overshadows his occupation as the current Los Angeles Dodgers manager. "I'd like to believe that's what I'm about, to be as honest as I can be."

Torre gets to have it both ways. He wrote a controversial book, helping the publisher recoup the advance, then said he didn't say anything he hadn't previously said.

"There's no question bitter things happen, but when I left it was more a sense of relief," Torre said.

He did two sessions with reporters before the signing: print and radio first, then television. He did an interview with NPR, and another with Bob Costas that will air Thursday on the MLB Network.

His quotes were smoothly similar. His most striking line came when referring to fans at Dodger Stadium.

"Never once did I say, 'You're the best in the world,' because the Yankee fans, there are no fans like the Yankee fans. They are unbelievable," Torre said. "Yeah, they're passionate in Los Angeles, and they grew over the course of the year. But the experience I had at Yankee Stadium with the fans, they'll never be able to duplicate that."

Torre made light of the fact that some in the Yankees clubhouse have referred to Alex Rodriguez as "A-Fraud." He said Larry Bowa, one of his coaches, used to do it when hitting grounders after the third baseman had a bad night in the field.

"He says, 'Come on, let's see who we see today? Is it going to be A-Rod or A-Fraud? Let's go,'" Torre recalled. "I mean, it was in front of him. You never did any of that stuff behind his back."

Trouble is, sensitivity to jokes increases with each additional dollar in salary in the Pinstriped Paradiso, where outsized paychecks trigger outsized egos, outsized expectations and outsized ticket prices at an outsized new ballpark.

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