A smiling and tan Joe Torre returned to Legends Field on Friday, meeting with his players and coaches for the first time since prostate cancer surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis on March 18.
Torre talked with his players about five minutes during a closed-door meeting. He also met with his coaching staff in the manager's office for 45 minutes.
"I thought it was important for them to see that I'm feeling fine and that it's just a matter of time," the New York Yankees manager said. "I asked them if there were any questions, I'd be around."
Torre will continue recuperating from the surgery in Florida until heading to New York around the time of home opener April 9 against Detroit. Torre also plans on coming to the ballpark either daily or two of every three days during the remaining week of spring training.
"By that time, the 8th or 9th, I may be visible but I'm not going to be directing the team," Torre said. "Don Zimmer has done enough of that during his career - a lot longer than I have."
Zimmer is the team's interim manager until Torre returns. Dr. William Catalona, who performed the surgery, said it's normally 6-to-12 weeks before patients go back to work.
"I don't want to come back and suddenly be washed out and have to take a few days off," Torre said. "We'll go according to how I feel and how I maintain my strength."
Torre planned on visiting his team early next week, but moved up his visit after consulting with his doctor.
"I've been progressing every day, and I talked to my doctor yesterday and he said, `Why don't you go tomorrow?' " Torre said. "After he said that, that's all I needed to hear. There's not much you can do. I walk and eat. He just thought I needed a little stimulation."
As expected, Torre feels weak later in the day. That's why he doesn't want to rush his return.
"This sure puts things in the proper perspective," Torre said. "You try and do that, but you get so involved that winning is the most important thing in the world. I sense it will be again once I get back into uniform."
Torre took part in Thursday's organizational meeting and will take part in sessions as the team prepares to make roster cuts.
Pathology reports indicate Torre's cancer was limited to the prostate gland and did not spread. Torre will undergo tests within the next month, at his own request, to see if any additional treatment is needed.
Torre called his experience away from spring training "weird."
"I've always wondered what people did during the day in spring training and now I've found out," Torre said. "Sit out, get some sun and play scrabble."
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