LOS ANGELES - Three seasons in the sun with the Los Angeles Dodgers rekindled Joe Torre's love for baseball.
They also provided the former New York Yankees manager with the chance to leave the bench on his own terms - and that's exactly what he will do next month.
Torre said Friday he will leave at the end of the season, although the 70-year-old skipper couldn't say with certainty that he never will manage again. The Dodgers immediately announced that hitting coach Don Mattingly will replace him in 2011.
Torre shed no tears at a news conference in Dodger Stadium before his club opened a six-game homestand against Colorado and San Diego, which have both blown past the fourth-place Dodgers in the National League West standings this season.
"Baseball has been my life, and, hopefully, will continue to be my life in some capacity," said Torre, who turned 70 in July. "When I came out here, it was just to find out if managing can be fun again, and it's been fun. . . . But you have to make some decisions by instinct, and my instinct tells me it's time to go."
The Dodgers' tumultuous front-office status likely helped Torre make up his mind to leave, with owners Frank and Jamie McCourt mired in a messy, ongoing divorce trial that has affected the team's entire operation.
Torre became one of the most famous and respected coaches in American sports during 12 winning seasons that included four championships with the Yankees, but he walked away from the club after the 2007 season, New York's fourth straight without a World Series appearance. The Yankees made a lowball contract offer that insulted Torre with its bonuses for advancing in the postseason, effectively forcing Torre to depart with his pride.
He left New York feeling frustration and burnout - but a call from the Dodgers persuaded him to return to the NL, where he spent most of his playing career. Although he never matched his Bronx success in Hollywood, Torre still revitalized the Dodgers while reaching the NL championship series twice.
His current club began the penultimate homestand of its season at 72-75 and in fourth place.
"Three years have gone by very quickly," Frank McCourt said. "You've done some marvelous things for this organization. I know this year was a disappointment, but what you achieved is something that hasn't been achieved here in 32 years."
McCourt referred to the Dodgers' back-to-back playoff appearances and NL West titles in 2008 and 2009. Los Angeles lost both times to the Phillies in the NL championship series.
Torre suggested he'll accept another job with the Dodgers, saying he plans to speak with general manager Ned Colletti next month about a role.