Joe Torre knows his future as manager of the Yankees could depend on a playoff berth.

The Yankees trail the first-place Red Sox in the AL East and the Athletics in the wild-card race with about six weeks left in the season, and back-page headlines yesterday in New York suggested Torre could be fired if his $200 million team doesn't reach the postseason.

But he insists that won't affect the way he manages.

"That goes with the territory," Torre said yesterday before the Yankees opened a three-game series with the White Sox. "I've never been concerned about managing to save my job. I always manage to try to win. And anytime I start thinking that I have to do this, or if I do this it doesn't look as good if I do this, I can't do that."

New York came to Chicago after losing two straight games to the last-place Devil Rays.

Torre said he hasn't spoken with owner George Steinbrenner since just after the all-star break.

* KNUCKLER DOWN: Red Sox RHP Tim Wakefield left his start against the Angels on Thursday night in the fifth inning after being hit in the right ankle.

Wakefield was struck on a comebacker by Casey Kotchman and fell down on the mound. He got up quickly, but left the game in what was his team-leading 25th start of the season.

Wakefield (12-10) gave up six runs and seven hits, struck out five and walked four in 41/3 innings.

X-rays were negative, but he has a deep contusion of the lower shin area. The Red Sox said it was too early to know if he would make his next start. Wakefield didn't talk to reporters after the game.

* KONERKO SITS: White Sox 1B Paul Konerko, the team leader with 31 home runs and 78 RBI, was scratched from last night's series opener against the Yankees because of a back strain.

-- From News Services