The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Cashman to once again rappel for Stamford holiday event11.21.14

Brian Cashman just slept on the streets of New York City (again), and in a few weeks he’s going to climb down the face of a building (again). Cashman is once again participating in the Heights & Lights event in Stamford, CT. It’s happening the weekend before the Winter Meetings, which means an early morning on a cold rooftop asking Cashman about free agents and trades. Here are the details from a press release distributed by the the city of Stamford:

Yankees Cashman BaseballOn Friday morning, December 5 from 6:00 to 9:00 am (ET), Rick Reichmuth, FOX News Channel’s Meteorologist, Brian Cashman, General Manager of the New York Yankees and Bobby Valentine, Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University will rappel from the one of Stamford, CT’s tallest buildings, the Landmark Building. Santa’s Elf, Brian VanOrsdel will be on hand, strapping Brian and Bobby in and guiding them down the 22 stories of the building, all the while broadcasting live on the FOX News Channel, “FOX & Friends” morning newscast.

The event marks the start of Rappelling Santa’s arrival in Stamford and is a good practice run for the rappelling crew for Sunday’s Heights & Lights program.

On Sunday, December 7 at 5:00 pm, Brian Cashman, Bobby Valentine, Santa and friends are scheduled once again to make their daredevil descent down the 22 stories of the Landmark Building, for Reckson, A Division of SL Green Realty Corp’s Rappelling Santa. After the rappel, Santa’s busy holiday schedule will take him straight up Bedford Street to Latham Park where he will join the Stamford Community for music with The Cast of Peter Pan Jr. from Saxe Middle School and the lighting of the Holiday Tree, donated by Bartlett Tree Company.

WHEN:

Practice Rappel: Friday Morning, December 5, 2014 from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM

Heights & Lights Rappel: Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 5:00 PM

WHERE:

Rappel at Landmark Square, Broad Street;

Tree Lighting at Latham Park, Bedford Street, Stamford Downtown

Heights & Lights is presented by Reckson, A Division of SL Green Realty Corp. and sponsored by The Advocate, 95.9 The Fox, Star 99.9, WEBE 108, Bartlett Tree Company, Happyhaha.com and The First Congregational Church of Stamford and brought to you by Stamford Downtown and The City of Stamford. Free Cocoa at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. THIS EVENT IS FREE!

Associated Press photo

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Cashman: Yanks open to adding more than one starting pitcher11.21.14

Brian Cashman slept on the street last night. He’s done it once a year for a few years now, all to raise money and awareness for Covenant House, an organization that works to help homeless youth.

“You’ve got to see the great work these people are doing for people who just need a fighting chance,” Cashman said.

Talking to the media last night, Cashman said a lot of the stuff we’ve come to expect this time of year. Which is to say, he didn’t say much. No real revelations here, but here’s a little bit of what he had to say.

Joe Girardi, Brian CashmanOn Hiroki Kuroda’s plans for next season
“I haven’t heard anything officially. Do I think he will play and put himself back in play for the major leagues as well as the NPB in Japan? I would think, yes. The guy is way too talented. I know he’s 38 or 39, but he’s way too talented to give it up and retire. If he wants to keep playing, he’ll have a market. That’s not an issue. But I have not officially heard that he wants to do anything. … I wouldn’t say (whether the Yankees want Kuroda back). Every dollar counts to something. Everything we do has to be accounted for, so it will have an impact on something else. It depends on the entire context of the roster. But I do need starting pitching, so he’s clearly an area that would solve some issues. We’ll see.”

Surprised by Russell Martin’s contract?
“No. He’s been great. I’m not surprised. The catching market is thin; that’s why Pittsburgh proactively went after Cervelli the way they did, in anticipation of losing (Martin). I was surprised he wound up in Toronto because I think everybody expected a different location for him. I thought two other places, if I had to predict before the winter where he might wind up. Toronto got themselves a hell of a player. I’d rather it not be them because they’re in our division. But I’m not surprised by his contract.”

On Brandon McCarthy and the possibility of adding two starters
“Obviously (McCarthy) did a tremendous job for us. He put himself in a hell of a position to command respect in the free agent market. Clearly we have interest but that’s about as far as I can really say at this point. … No (signing McCarthy wouldn’t keep the Yankees from signing another pitcher). I mean, bottom line is, I think you’re asking if I’m open to adding more than one starter. Yeah, I’d be open to that.”

Any 40-man additions difficult decisions?
“No. I think they were all layups for various reasons. So, no. We added who we felt we had to add. You’d prefer that you didn’t have to add anybody and guarantee that you’d get them back. But that wasn’t the case with any one of these guys. So, hence their additions.”

On the Yankees priorities this offseason
“I can restate clearly shortstop, maybe third base; the left side of the infield is definitely a priority. Kind of reinforce our pitching (as well). I think we have good pitching, but there’s obviously some volatility in it because of the health status and health histories of some of them. Those are two areas I would like to focus on. Bullpen, clearly with the Robertson circumstance, is an issue. That’s a handful right off the bat. I can’t really say if any of the big-ticket items are in play or not in play. I’m just going to say we’re doing everything in our power to improve the club. Ownership has always been very beneficial with the resources to put the team on the field.”

Associated Press photo

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Cashman raising awareness for homeless youth11.17.14

Brian Cashman has done this before, and he’s doing it again, sleeping on the streets to raise awareness about homeless kids. Rock solid cause, and good work by the Yankees GM. Here’s the press release with details.

Brian CashmanNew York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and New York City Football Club Chief Business Officer Tim Pernetti will sleep on the streets of New York City as they join more than 750 leaders in sports, entertainment and business in a nationwide Sleep Out for homeless youth on Thursday, November 20.

This nationwide movement of solidarity will raise awareness for the plight of kids on the street and will begin in New York with a Candlelight Vigil in Times Square at 6:00 pm at the pedestrian plaza on Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets. The Vigil will feature inspirational performances by Broadway stars Audra McDonald and Capathia Jenkins.

“Covenant House is a place where homeless youth not only find a safe place from the streets, but also a place where kids who have had a tough start in life get a second chance,” Cashman said. “Covenant House provides job training, education and long-term housing — everything that homeless young people need to turn their lives around.”

“There are thousands of homeless youth in New York City, which is difficult to understand,” Pernetti added. “Covenant House gives young people a safe place to sleep, a shower and food — all the immediate care that they need when coming in off the streets. The organization then works with each youth on a plan for his or her future. I encourage everyone to sleep out or support one of the sleep out participants on November 20.”

“We’re honored to have Brian, Tim and all of these selfless sports and business leaders sleeping out as a unified, powerful voice for our kids at Covenant House,” said Covenant House President Kevin Ryan. “All of these leaders are selflessly using their amazing gifts to bring hope to the 1,900 kids who are in our shelters each night.

“November 20 will be a night when Brian, Tim, and people who care about kids all across the country will raise candles of hope during a National Candlelight Vigil and then sleep on the streets in solidarity with homeless kids,” said Ryan. “No one is saying sleeping out for one night is comparable to what homeless kids go through. But our Vigil and our Sleep Out will raise awareness and funds needed to save the lives of kids who are right now living and dying on our streets. It will be a powerful night of hope for our kids.”

Other executives who are sleeping out for the youth at Covenant House include Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman, owners of The Meatball Shop restaurants; Gail Grimmett, Sr., Vice President for Delta Airlines; and employees from the leading luxury home builder, Toll Brothers, who will have Sleep Out teams in Atlantic City, New York, Orlando, and Philadelphia.

Associated Press photo

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Nightengale: Trade market could be lively this winter11.14.14

We’ve already heard Brian Cashman said that this year’s GM Meetings were a little more busy than usual. It seems that sentiment stretches beyond the Yankees general manager. Here’s USA Today’s Bob Nightengale with his piece wrapping up this week’s GM Meetings in Phoenix. It includes a lot of references to the Yankees, and it definitely leaves the feeling that several teams laid significant groundwork the in the past week or so.

Brian CashmanThey parted company Thursday, promised to keep in touch, and by the time they get together again next month in San Diego, the baseball landscape could look entirely different.

The four-day Major League Baseball general manager meetings concluded with just two free agent signings and a couple of small trades, but the GMs predicted a potential tidal wave of trade activity over these next few weeks.

“I think it’s going to be an active trade market,” says Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. “There’s a lot of aggressive conversations going on. It seems like there’s a lot of teams looking to change their clubs.”

Considering the woefully thin free-agent market, which just lost one of the biggest prizes when DH Victor Martinez agreed Wednesday to a four-year, $68 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, teams have little choice but to interact with one another.

“I expect it will be a pretty busy trade season,” Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels says, “because the free-agent market has areas that are really lacking. It pushes teams toward the trade table.”

The biggest marquee position players on the market are San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, Baltimore Orioles DH Nelson Cruz and Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin.

The Giants want him Sandoval back, and the Boston Red Sox are trying to lure him into a visit next week. Yet, with the Giants showing a sense of urgency, there may be no need for Sandoval to make that Boston flight. The Orioles are doing the same with Cruz, visiting with him Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Hiroki Kuroda, Francisco Cervelli, Derek JeterThe Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays may have cornered the market on Martin, and considering the Pirates traded for New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, they realize that it may be time to drop out of this high-priced poker game.

The market has been quiet for the three premium free-agent starting pitchers. Oakland A’s ace Jon Lester is being heavily courted by the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, with the loser likely sent back into the trade market where the Philadelphia Phillies have Cole Hamels waiting. Max Scherzer and James Shields also are awaiting mega offers, which could impact the trade market.

And, once again, the Yankees are being stealth, refusing to tip their hand on whether they’re willing to write a $100 million check, after spending $480 million on last year’s market.

They already have committed $170 million to just 10 players on next year’s payroll, after spending $232 million a year ago, according to the 40-man rosters submitted by teams to Major League Baseball’s central office, and obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

“It will be high, I can tell you that,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman says. “It will be impressive.

“I’m just hopeful the roster will be as impressive.”

Brandon McCarthyThe Yankees, who are still hoping to get out of the $61 million they owe Alex Rodriguez, may simply try just to keep their team intact from a year ago, trying to retain free-agent closer David Robertson and starter Brandon McCarthy.

Yet, after missing the playoffs in successive seasons for the first time in 20 years, agent Scott Boras says the Yankees may have no choice but to call his Newport Beach, Calif. office, and enter the Scherzer sweepstakes.

“The Steinbrenner history has always been we’re going to win,” Boras says. “It serves their brand. It serves their model to do everything they can to win.”

“This guy is a No. 1 pitcher. There aren’t that many of them. It’s the difference between a good team and a World Series team.”

The game is so flush with money these days that even the Miami Marlins are willing to write the biggest check in franchise history to retain Giancarlo Stanton, who’s eligible for free agency in two years. They’ve had serious conversations about a long-term contract, ranging from six to 10 years in length.

“We’re trying to get away from having to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Marlins president Mike Hill says. “Enough of that. We want to win.”

The Marlins will keep Stanton through at least this season, no matter whether he signs an extension or not, Hill says. They have let teams know they won’t even listen to trade proposals, so teams stopped asking.

“We’ve been up front since last offseason that we weren’t trading him,” Hill said. “I think that message has been received.”

While Stanton will remain in Miami, there are plenty of other All-Star outfielders on the open trade market. The Boston Red Sox are listening on Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, and the Dodgers have teams know they are willing to trade Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford or even Matt Kemp.

Just not Yasiel Puig.

“I think that’s most likely the best course of action,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations. “Things play out in different ways, but I’ll be surprised if it’s not in a way to move an outfielder to address an area that’s not as deep.”

The Atlanta Braves also have two of the finest young outfielders available on the market in Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, and are shopping catcher Evan Gattis, too.

“We obviously have all options open,” said John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations. “Nothing is settled here.”

Or anywhere else for that matter.

It’s that time of year.

Let the trades begin.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees look to “change the dynamic” of their coaching staff10.11.14

Kevin Long, Robinson CanoHard to say how much of a team’s success or failure depends on a hitting coach. Even harder to define the impact of a first base coach or an infield instructor.

In announcing on Friday that both Kevin Long and Mick Kelleher were being fired, general manager Brian Cashman stopped short of blaming them for the Yankees shortcomings, but he made it clear that the organization felt the need to make some sort of change.

“We let the season play out, let everybody put all hands in,” Cashman said. “We were able to fix a number of issues, but the one issue we couldn’t fix was the offense.”

It was Long who seemed most on the hot seat after the Yankees finished 13th in the American League in runs scored. That said, it’s only fair to mention that through Long’s first six years as hitting coach, the Yankees were consistently among the highest-scoring teams in the game.

“I know when I talked to Kevin today he told me, he was like, ‘Cash, I wouldn’t do anything different, because I tried everything,’” Cashman said. “I think Kevin can sleep at night knowing he tried every tool in the toolbox. I know that he publicly stated late in the year that he did everything and tried everything. It wasn’t sufficient, but the effort was sufficient. The results just weren’t.”

So the Yankees know they’ve had success with Long in the past, and they seem happy with the work he did this season. The decision to fire him is where the vagaries of the job come into play.

Was Carlos Beltran’s bad season because of the coaching he received or because of the bone spur in his elbow? Could a different hitting coach have gotten more out of Mark Teixeira or has Teixeira simply declined as a hitter? Is there someone who can better teach Brian McCann to beat the shift, or is he simply a player susceptible to defensive adjustments?

“I don’t make changes lightly,” Cashman said. “I’ve never made a coaching change in-season. Not one. It takes a lot for me to make some adjustments, and obviously the belief is always to try to find better and upgrade if I can. It’s tough because I know Kevin’s good at what he does. I believe (that), but I’m looking for a different voice maybe with a different message and approach to some degree. It’s my job to continue to find different ways to improve upon the offensive side. That will be from some internal options, some external options, and obviously by today’s conversation, it’s also going to be from a change in the leadership from the dugout.”

An overall change in leadership also seems to be at the root of the Kelleher decision. A wildly popular personality in the clubhouse, Kelleher was responsible for an infield that played poor defense in the first half of the season, yet Cashman made it clear that he placed the defensive blame on the players themselves. Yangervis Solarte, Kelly Johnson, Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts simply were not a good defensive group in the first half.

“I would not hold Mick Kelleher responsible for any defensive deficiencies,” Cashman said. “That was personnel related.”

It seems, then, that the decision to let Kelleher go was about opening a spot for a new addition as much as anything.

“I think the overall direction of the staff as we move forward will be better served with some personnel that we’re going to interview,” Cashman said. “As you change the dynamic of the staff, it has to come at the expense of some personnel. In this case, it’s Mick. There are some individuals, I think, as we move forward (who) will bring more for the global perspective of the coaching staff. That despite Mick’s high qualities, some of the people I’m interested in talking to will do the same. I don’t want to go into any specifics. I think Mick is good at what he does, he’s a good infield instructor and he’s very positive, but there are some more things that I want to add to the staff with Joe Girardi. And in my dialogue with Joe, we look forward to interviewing some personnel that can bring those things to the table.”

Associated Press photo

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Cashman notes: Long, Kelleher, Rodriguez, Robertson10.10.14

Just a few quick notes and some leftovers from today’s Brian Cashman conference call:

Masahiro Tanaka• Anything Kevin Long could have or should have done differently with this offense? “I think he tried everything in his power,” Cashman said. “By his own assessment, I know when I talked to Kevin today he told me, he was like, ‘Cash, I wouldn’t do anything different, because I tried everything.’ I think Kevin can sleep at night knowing he tried every tool in the toolbox. I know that he publicly stated late in the year that he did everything and tried everything. It wasn’t sufficient, but the effort was sufficient. The results just weren’t.”

• On whether Mick Kelleher was to blame for the Yankees defensive problems in the first half: “That was more personnel-related,” Cashman said. “When we lost players like Cano, for instance, who was an exceptional defender, to free agency; or when we lost Alex to a suspension, for instance. We had Derek Jeter coming back, as well as Mark Teixeira, from injury. Those players possessed a certain amount of ability, and I think Mick addressed that to the best of his abilities. As we were able to acquire better defenders as the season went on and they presented themselves, we obviously improved our team defense. I would not hold Mick Kelleher responsible for any defensive deficiencies. That was personnel related.”

• Interesting comment about the decision to get rid of Kelleher: “There are some individuals, I think, as we move forward, (who) will bring more for the global perspective of the coaching staff.”

• The latest on Alex Rodriguez’s offseason workouts: “Matt Krause, our strength coach, just visited with him yesterday in Miami to continue the process that I talked to you all about in Boston at Fenway Park at the end of the season,” Cashman said. “That we’re going to be reconnecting with Alex, all of our staff. Alex reached out and said, ‘Hey, let’s start proactively doing that.’ That’s what Alex is about. He’s proactive and trying to put himself in the best position to be successful and hit the ground running when he gets reactivated.”

• On whether the Yankees want to bring back Dave Robertson or let Dellin Betances transition into the closer role: “What happens as we move forward with (Robertson) and the qualifying offer is yet to be determined,” Cashman said. “But we thank David, and we’re proud of what he’s done here and how he’s handled himself here. The final decision that has to be made here first and foremost is yet to be made. Because of that I don’t think it’s really fair to speculate on alternatives in house. It’s obviously a tough role, and if you’ve never done it, I’d answer that question the same way I answered it maybe to David’s anguish last year, all winter, where I would not assume that anybody could do that. It’s just not that type of role that you could guarantee someone can easily transition to.”

• Any other coaching changes coming? “These are the moves we’re making,” Cashman said. “And any other moves that we choose to make or want to pursue, obviously we’ll reveal them. If we choose to make any other changes we’ll let you know, otherwise everything is status quo until then.”

Associated Press photo

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Yankees re-sign Brian Cashman to three-year contract10.10.14

Here’s the official announcement from the team:

Joe Girardi, Brian CashmanThe New York Yankees today announced that the club has re-signed Brian Cashman to a three-year contract to serve as Senior Vice President and General Manager.

Cashman, 47, joined the Yankees organization in 1986 as a 19-year-old intern in the Minor League and Scouting Department and has served in his current role since February 3, 1998. In all, his clubs have earned a postseason berth in 14 of his 17 seasons as GM (1998-2007, ’09-12), claimed 12 Division titles, six American League championships and four World Series titles. His feat of reaching the playoffs in each of his first 10 seasons (1998-2007) remains unmatched in Baseball history.

Over the course of his time with the Yankees, he has earned five World Series rings, including four as General Manager, becoming the first GM to win four World Series titles since the Dodgers’ Buzzie Bavasi in the 1950s and ‘60s. He has earned his World Series titles with two managers – Joe Torre and Joe Girardi.

Cashman has the third-longest tenure among current general managers in Baseball (behind San Francisco’s Brian Sabean and Oakland’s Billy Beane) and is the longest-serving Yankees GM since Hall of Famer Ed Barrow led the team from October 28, 1920, to February 20, 1945.

He became the second-youngest General Manager in Baseball history when he was named to the post at age 30. In his first season in 1998, he became the youngest-ever GM to win a World Series. With subsequent championships in 1999 and 2000, he became the only GM in Baseball history to win world titles in each of his first three seasons. A pennant in 2001 gave him four straight League Championships, placing him alongside Barrow (1936-39, four) and fellow Yankees Hall of Famer George Weiss (1949-53, five) as the only GMs in Baseball history to win four-or-more straight league titles at any point in their careers.

Cashman’s lifetime winning percentage of .594 (1,633-1,117-2) is the highest of any General Manager with at least five seasons of experience since 1950, and marks the best team winning percentage in the Major Leagues since 1998.

His career as a full-time Yankees employee began following his graduation from Catholic University in 1989, when he became a full-time Assistant in Baseball Operations. He was later promoted and transferred to Tampa, Fla., where he served as Assistant Farm Director from 1990 to 1992. He returned to New York and became Assistant General Manager, Baseball Administration in November 1992.

Associated Press photo

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First things first: Find a general manager09.30.14

Brian CashmanThe Yankees usually hold organizational meetings almost immediately after the season ends, but as general manager Brian Cashman stood in front of the Yankees dugout on Saturday, his immediate schedule was a little unclear.

“We’ve got (Sunday) to play and after that, we’ll go from there,” Cashman said. “I have no meetings scheduled currently.”

No meetings because Cashman has no contract beyond the month of October. Before the Yankees can truly move forward with offseason plans — and there’s clearly work to be done — they’re going to have to officially put someone in charge of rebuilding this team.

“My stuff’s not really resolved, so there have been no discussions just yet,” Cashman said. “That will all wait for another day. I don’t want to talk about game-planning or focus, what should or shouldn’t be looked at. I’ll wait until we all sit down with ownership, they can map out their strategy and who’s going to be a part of that, and we can go from there.”

Right now, there’s really little reason to think Cashman won’t be back. The Yankees front office has generally shown nothing but support for their long-time GM, and Cashman has not indicated that he wants to move on. Should the Yankees make a change? I’m sure there are plenty of strong opinions in favor, and that’s understandable given three hard facts.

1. Back-to-back seasons missing the playoffs.

2. Lack of offensive production from the farm system.

3. Spending nearly a half billion dollars this winter and not getting so much as a wild card.

Those are pretty glaring negatives. I would argue that last season really did feel fluky given all of the long-term injuries to the lineup (the easy counter argument is that this is what you get with an aging roster, which goes back to the lack of production from within the system). I would also argue that the farm system is coming off a strong season and that the Yankees have produced quite a bit of quality pitching (again, easy counter argument is that the team’s expected-to-be-high-end talent has failed to reach a high-end ceiling, and every team stumbles into a productive role player now and then). I would also argue that Cashman did have some real wins this season from taking a shot on Masahiro Tanaka’s talent, to getting some surprising production out of Yangervis Solarte and Chris Capuano, to trading for Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley and Martin Prado (counter argument: finding bit parts and one injured starter wasn’t nearly enough to make the playoffs).

With serious holes to fill, the Yankees first order of business is determining whether Cashman is still the man to run the show.

“I don’t anticipate anything,” Cashman said. “My contract runs through October 31 and I can’t tell you anything past that. When and if decisions get made, you guys will be brought in the loop.”

Associated Press photo

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Hal speaks on Yankees issues06.04.13

Hal SteinbrennerHal Steinbrenner was grilled on a variety of subjects before last night’s 7-4 win over the Indians. Here are some more highlights besides expressing the Yankees’ disappointment in Alex Rodriguez’s past escapades and his praise regarding how the team has done despite their injury adversity:

On Robinson Cano and his expiring contract: “There’s nothing new to report. If something significant (happens), believe me you guys will be the first to know.”

On whether Cano changing agents from Scott Boras to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports is a positive thing: “We’ve had a good relationship with Scott, so we’ll see. … There’s been a lot of years and my dad certainly had his dealings with him and Scott’s been around a long time, so it is what it is. Whoever the agent is, that’s who we’ll be dealing with.”

On the challenges of meeting the sub-$189 million payroll goal for next season: “Again, tell me how the young players are going to continue to develop. Tell me how Pineda is going to do. It’s too early to speculate.”

On how George Steinbrenner would cope with losing to the Mets last week: “He went through a few, so I mean sometimes he handled it better than others, right? … Maybe he would have been fine. Maybe he would have surprised everybody. Maybe not. But it’s a long season. It’s a marathon and we’re right in the middle of it. We’re right in the middle of it.”

More on getting swept by the Mets: “Look, they are the crosstown rivals. There’s no doubt about that. But I concern myself maybe a little bit more with the teams in our division. You have to. But does it feel good? No. Does it sting? Yes, absolutely.”

On Brian Cashman’s comments to ESPN about Alex Rodriguez not being about to live up to his contract: “It’s big contract to live up to. I didn’t see Brian’s comments to be honest with you. Look, we just hope he comes back healthy as he did in ’09 after the surgery and we hope he contributes in a big way.  I mean, he’s a heck of an athlete, and if the surgery has fixed the problem, you may see good things out of him. We hope so.”

On Cashman saying that nobody can live up to the contract: “Well, that may be true. That’s a philosophical argument there, I guess. It’s a big contract. But we all hope he’s going to act like a Yankee and do the best he can to live up to it.’’

On how the investigation into Biogenesis has complicated the relationship between the team and A-Rod: “We haven’t been told anything, so it hasn’t complicated it at all. He’s been in Tampa. He’s been rehabbing and we hope he comes back strong. But there’s innocent until proven guilty, right? We haven’t heard a thing.”

On the decline in attendance: “As I said a couple of weeks ago, I think there’s a lot of factors. We’re not the only major-league team by a long shot that’s down and I still think the economy’s not great and there’s other things going on, too. The weather was horrible in April as you know, but we’re starting to see better crowds now and that’s going to continue with summer coming, and I just urge people to come out and support this team. Number one, they need it right now. They’re in the fight of their lives. And number two, they’ve earned it.”

Also, here’s a link to my story today on the Yankees finally finding some offense last night, plus my feature story on Nick Swisher and his return and Lyle Overbay stepping into right field for the first time in a regular-season game since 1999 in rookie ball.

Photo by The Associated Press.

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Yankees pregame: Cashman says ‘mistake’ made with Youkilis situation04.30.13

Brian Cashman came right out and said it. If the Yankees had it to do over, they would not have played Kevin Youkilis Saturday against the Blue Jays.

“Playing him Saturday was a mistake by everybody involved,” Cashman said.

The GM indicated that Youkilis tweaked his back when he slid into first defensively in that game after sitting out the previous six games. The Yankees lost a chance to backdate him on the DL to April 21. Now that they finally put him on the DL, they could only backdate him to Sunday. Not that they can be sure that he’ll be ready to go when he’s eligible.

Asked if this is only a 15-day thing, Cashman said, “I’m hoping for that. He was down for 23 days last April with the same issue.”

Youkilis was told not to bother coming to the Stadium today after receiving an epidural injection for his lumbar spine sprain.

The Yankees still have no regular backup on the left side of the infield. The starting shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, is the main backup for Jayson Nix at third and vice versa. Corban Joseph may get some time over at third in a pinch. Joe Girardi said he could back up at first, second and third, but Cashman spoke about how bad Joseph looked at third in spring training. Joseph primarily played second at Triple-A with a couple of games at first.

Cashman said Joseph was called up because he was on the 40-man roster. The Yankees couldn’t call up David Adams because they released him at the end of spring training, so he’s ineligible to play for them until May 15. Asked about the backup infield situation, Cashman said, “I’ve got no choice.”

Cashman also said Ivan Nova’s triceps inflammation is “mild.” Girardi said Curtis Granderson is getting closer to playing in rehab games, and he’s hoping to have both Granderson and Youkilis back for the stretch of division games May 17. But he didn’t think Mark Teixeira would be ready by then, saying that he’s still only taking dry swings.

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