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Bernie likely to pass on Minors offer

Bernie likely to pass on Spring Training invite

NEW YORK -- Bernie Williams is prepared to spend his spring without the New York Yankees.

According to multiple reports, the outfielder is not inclined to accept the Yankees' offer of a non-guaranteed Minor League contract, instead opting to wait for a guaranteed roster spot.

"I think if they wanted me, they probably would have signed me already," Williams told reporters Friday night. "The option to go to Spring Training and see what would happen, I don't think at this moment it is something I want to consider."

Williams, 38, addressed the media briefly at a New Milford, Conn., charity benefit concert, where he played guitar behind singer Chynna Phillips.

A five-time All-Star, Williams has played all 16 of his Major League seasons in pinstripes, but the Yankees appear ready to move on without him.

"Obviously, if we start camp and he's not with us, that's it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a telephone interview.

With a first-base platoon that has shifted Jason Giambi to a full-time designated hitter, and a 12-man pitching staff expected to be utilized, New York's outfield has been constructed for only four players. Melky Cabrera is tentatively tabbed to serve as a backup.

"The way it looks right now," Williams told reporters, "it doesn't seem like I'm going to be playing with that team this year."

Williams told reporters he would remain at home and stay in shape, anticipating a call that could come from the Yankees at some point -- perhaps in the event of injury to one of the club's starting outfielders: Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu.

Earlier this winter, teammate Jorge Posada suggested that Williams might rejoin the Yankees at some point during the season.

Williams proved last season that he is still capable of handling Major League pitching, batting .281 with 12 home runs and 61 RBIs in 131 games.

A Yankee since 1991, Williams was an integral part of four World Series-winning clubs. He has a career batting average of .297 and is baseball's all-time leader in postseason home runs (22) and RBIs (80).

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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