George Steinbrenner said yesterday he believes he is entitled to have input in the New York Yankees' decisions regarding free agents even though Commissioner Fay Vincent has turned down two written requests from him to become involved in those transactions.

In addition, Paul Curran, one of Steinbrenner's attorneys, said Vincent has breached the agreement Steinbrenner signed in August, when Vincent ruled Steinbrenner's dealings with gambler Howard Spira were not in the best interests of baseball.

Under the agreement, Steinbrenner resigned as the Yankees managing partner, thus relinquishing day-to-day control over the club. Steinbrenner reduced his personal stake in the Yankees from about 55 percent to less than 50 percent, but said he and his family retain a majority interest in the club.

Steinbrenner said that because the agreement does not specifically prohibit him from becoming involved in decisions regarding free agents, he is entitled to do so. Vincent said that the issue was raised while the agreement was being negotiated, that Steinbrenner was told he could have no involvement in the free-agent market and that Steinbrenner understood that prohibition.

The agreement states that Steinbrenner may ask Vincent in writing for permission to become involved in "material and extraordinary financial or business affairs" of the Yankees. Steinbrenner's bid to become involved in free-agent decisions was reported yesterday by Newsday. He said yesterday he intially petitioned Vincent in September, and Vincent turned him down. He said he appealed the decision, which involved writing to Vincent again, and again Vincent turned him down.

{Steinbrenner} "asked me at the time the agreement was made and I told him he would not be involved in free agency and he understood it," Vincent told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from Japan. "I turned him down because it's clear under the agreement that he's not entitled to that privilege."

Steinbrenner agreed that the issue had been discussed, but disagreed with Vincent's version of the outcome.

"That's his statement -- fine," Steinbrenner said. "That's not my understanding at all."

The agreement specifically prohibits Steinbrenner from being involved with "day-to-day operations" and "matter that that can be performed adequately by other persons." But Steinbrenner said the free-agent market comes once a year, and thus is not a day-to-day matter. He also said Robert Nederlander, the minority owner who replaced him as managing partner, "has no experience in free agency."

As for the abilities of General Manager Gene Michael and Vice Presdent George Bradley to make free-agent decisions, he said: "I am not about to leave millions of my dollars to their judgment alone."

Curran said a main part of his dispute with Vincent stems from a request Steinbrenner made to "do the investing" of the team's money. Curran cited a provision of the agreement that states Vincent "shall approve" written requests from Steinbrenner to become involved in four types of business matters, among them "banking relationships, including financial arrangements."

Vincent denied this request, saying it was a day-to-day matter.

Curran said Vincent had granted Steinbrenner permission to become involved in two lease negotiations. As for Steinbrenner's next move in the disputes, Curran said: "We will take it step by step and do what we have to do . . . {Steinbrenner} certainly has options."