<
>

Boss: Cashman 'on a big hook' for Yanks' 2007 performance

NEW YORK -- Despite constant speculation about manager Joe
Torre's job, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner says
someone else also needs to deliver as the team looks to reverse its
floundering start: general manager Brian Cashman.

"He's on a big hook," a spirited Steinbrenner told The
Associated Press in a rare interview from this Tampa office. "He
wanted sole authority. He got it. Now he's got to deliver."

Steinbrenner's comments came with the Yankees' record at 21-24,
sitting 9½ games behind the American League East-leading Boston Red
Sox.

"The boss is the boss,'' Cashman said before Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels. "There are no surprises here. He's said this to me privately."

Cashman agreed with Steinbrenner's assessment.

"I'm on the hook. You can't describe it any better than that," Cashman said. "It's my job to figure it out.

"So far, it's been a long, short season. We've got to fight
through this," he said, adding the results at this point are "not acceptable."

The Yankees, with the highest payroll in the majors, haven't
reached the World Series since 2003.

The Boss said he was encouraged by the Yankees' performance
this week in taking two out of three games from Boston -- and he
felt the return of Roger Clemens could provide another boost.

"We hope we have turned it around," Steinbrenner said
emphatically. The 44-year-old Clemens brings "a winning
attitude," he continued. "I think Roger is capable of sparking
the team. He is a veteran and will bring stability. I am happy he
is coming back. I love him."

Steinbrenner, 76, felt "The Rocket" needed at least one more
minor-league start to sharpen his stuff, and Yankees officials said
Thursday that the right-hander will likely pitch Monday in a
Triple-A game.


That would put the seven-time Cy Young Award winner on track to
return to the majors in Fenway Park next weekend against his old
team.

As for Torre, the Yankees manager since 1996, Steinbrenner said "we are not considering a change."

Torre, like Steinbrenner, is displeased with the Yankees' start.

"When he says something, you understand it's his team and he
has the right to be unhappy," Torre said. "He's stirred the pot here for a lot of years, and it's paid off."

Steinbrenner was less generous toward Jason Giambi, whose recent comments to USA Today that he was "wrong for doing that stuff" were
interpreted by some as an admission of steroid use. Giambi told a federal grand jury that he used steroids from 2001-3 and human growth hormone in 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.


Giambi was called into the commissioner's office Wednesday to
discuss his remarks.

"He should have kept his mouth shut," Steinbrenner said. "The
matter is in the hands of the baseball commissioner."

Said Giambi: "He has that right. He's the boss. I'm going to
worry about playing baseball."

This wasn't the first time, of course, that Steinbrenner's barbs
hit one of his players.

"It's what goes on here, and I think Jason has been here long
enough to understand that," Torre said.

Commissioner Bud Selig likely will decide within two weeks
whether to discipline Giambi.

On another topic, Steinbrenner said he was impressed with
Torre's bench coach, ex-Yankees great Don Mattingly, and that he
"could possibly" become manager someday.

"Mattingly is a good one," Steinbrenner said. "He is very thorough guy. He understands what it is to be a Yankee."

The owner also lavished praise on Pettitte, who left the Yankees
after the 2003 season and pitched alongside Clemens in Houston
before rejoining the Yankees this season.

"He's a real gutsy guy," Steinbrenner said. "We are happy he
is back with us."

Steinbrenner also is pleased with Jeter, who this week passed
Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio and moved into fifth place on the
Yankees' career hits list.

"Jeter is a real Yankee," he said.

Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973 and has presided over six
world championships and 10 pennants while building the Yankees
franchise into the most lucrative in sports.

He has been know to make generous donations through the team,
most recently to Virginia Tech in the aftermath of last month's
tragedy.

The Yankees contributed $1 million to the school's "Hokie
Spirit Memorial Fund" to assist the victims' families, and honored
the victims before the Red Sox game on Wednesday night. Virginia
Tech's president threw out the first pitch and the Yankees wore VT
logos on their caps.

"I feel very strongly about the young people," Steinbrenner
said. "I feel so strongly about the teachers and the school, all the people affected by this. We wanted to help in the healing process."

As far as the Yankees' fate, the message of the legendary Boss
was as strong and clear as ever:

"We just have to get out there and compete, compete hard, and
win," he said.