Don Mattingly did not tell the Yankees he isn't ready to be manager or take himself out of the running for consideration, Mattingly's longtime agent Ray Schulte said on Tuesday afternoon.

"Donnie's in a situation where he loves Joe [Torre] and he loves the Yankees,''' Schulte said in an interview with "He looks at it as a win-win situation. If Torre comes back, he works with Joe, and he has a great relationship with Joe. If he doesn't, he could be considered for manager.''

This has been a touchy situation for Mattingly, a Yankees icon, since the Yankees were ousted from from the postseason in the Division Series for a third straight season and failed to win a World Series for a seventh straight time. Since their quick exit from the playoffs, the focus has been on Torre's tenuous situation and the fact that Mattingly, his bench coach, was the most likely replacement.

"Don thinks of Joe as a mentor. He has the utmost respect for Joe. The confidence he has is because of Joe,'' Schulte said. "He's got the passion for the job. It just boils down to timing.''

Schulte called the report in Tuesday's Newark Star-Ledger that Mattingly told a member of the Steinbrenner family that he doesn't feel ready for the job and is unwilling to replace Torre "a fabrication.'

"It's absolutely not true,'' Schulte said. "I spoke to Don this morning, and he was just blindsided.''

Yankees higherups -- including Steinbrenner's two sons -- Hank and Hal -- and club president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman are meeting at an undisclosed location in Tampa today discuss the Torre situation.

The support for Torre among the top brass appears fairly thin. But fans and players have strongly supported Torre, and at least one potential star free agent, Mariano Rivera, suggested the call on Torre could impact his decision. The Yankees, however, remain confident they can re-sign Rivera.

Mattingly, a longtime George Steinbrenner favorite, has been seen as the most likely successor should the Yankees decide to make a change. Joe Girardi, who declined to discuss the situation when reached by phone, is another strong candidate. Other possibilities include Bobby Valentine, Tony La Russa and Tony Pena, the Yankees' first base coach.

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