Billy Martin may be replacing Lou Piniella soon for what would be his fifth term as manager of the New York Yankees, according to a published report.

The New York Daily News, quoting unidentified sources, reported yesterday that principal owner George Steinbrenner is leaning toward replacing Piniella, who has managed the Yankees for the past two seasons and has one year remaining on his contract.

The newspaper said Piniella met with Steinbrenner at Yankee Stadium on Thursday to discuss the situation. It said Piniella confirmed the meeting, but said Steinbrenner did not return telephone calls.

"We met, but that's all I can say," Piniella said, adding a "no comment" when asked if he was being replaced.

The newspaper also said Martin, who has been serving as a "special assistant" to Steinbrenner, as well as a part-time Yankees broadcaster, has contacted Clete Boyer about becoming the team's third base coach. Boyer is a minor league instructor for the Yankees.

According to the newspaper, Martin and his agent, New Orleans Judge Eddie Sapir, met with Steinbrenner last month in Tampa, Fla. While Steinbrenner called the meeting purely social, the newspaper quoted a source close to Sapir as saying they met to discuss and negotiate Martin's return as manager.

Martin has been fired four times by Steinbrenner for a variety of reasons.