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Bernie Williams now appears headed for retirement

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Jim Baumbach of Newsday reports:

NEW MILFORD, Conn. - Bernie Williams couldn't bring himself to say his Yankees career is over, but the sad look on his face and his somber tone provided enough proof.

Saying he is "leaning toward" declining the Yankees' invitation to spring training as a non-roster player, Williams on Friday night acknowledged it looks as if his time in pinstripes has come to an end.

"I think if they wanted to have me on the team, they would have signed me already," said Williams, 38. "Having the option to go to spring training to see what would happen is something that ... I don't think at this moment it's something I want to consider."

When Williams' comments were relayed to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, he said: "I certainly respect where he's coming from. I understand and respect his unwillingness . There's not much more I can say."

Williams, who spoke before playing guitar in a benefit concert with Chynna Phillips at Faith Church, reiterated that he still has not allowed himself to consider the possibility of playing elsewhere.

"I want to make sure I know for sure what the Yankees are thinking," Williams said. "It doesn't really look like I'm going to play for that team for this year, meaning the Yankees."

But Cashman doesn't seem too willing to change his stance. "I've had conversations with Scott [Boras, Williams' agent] all winter about this," he said. "... I don't have a major-league contract to offer."