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Stuck in a rut, Yankees get hour-long meeting with Torre

TORONTO -- His team stuck in a rut, manager Joe Torre wanted
to talk to the New York Yankees.

For an hour.

Sensing an attitude problem on his struggling team, Torre held a
lengthy meeting before Monday night's game in Toronto. The session
ran so long the Yankees were nearly a half-hour late taking the
field for stretching and batting practice.

"I've seen some tentativeness," Torre said. "If there's a
word to characterize this whole thing, it's 'frustration."'

New York fell six games below .500 for the first time this
season after being swept by the Los Angeles Angels over the
weekend. The Yankees (21-27) have dropped 11 of their past 16,
leaving them 12{ games behind Boston in the AL East -- their largest
decifit since late in the 1995 season.

"It's not fun, no question," Torre said. "We certainly
haven't lived up to our expectations."

The Yankees started a 10-game road trip, their longest of the
season. After Toronto, they'll play at Boston and Chicago.

Torre did not divulge specifics about the meeting, but said
he'll continue to try different things to create a winning spark.

"We're going to keep rearranging the furniture until we find
something that works," he said. "Right now, we don't seem to be
blending this thing very well."

Yankees designated hitter Jason Giambi is stuck in a prolonged
slump, going 4-for-44 with one RBI over his last 15 games. Third
baseman Alex Rodriguez is just 7-for-33 (.212) over his last nine
games with all five of his RBIs in that span coming on four homers.

"We've got to start winning," shortstop Derek Jeter said.
"That's really all that matters."

The Yankees entered play in the unfamiliar position of fourth
place, just one game ahead of last-place Tampa Bay.

It's not about chasing anybody," Torre said. "Right now we've
got to straighten out our house. Our playoff opportunity is going
to come from our record, not from who we're chasing."

Torre cautioned against counting on Roger Clemens to cure all of
New York's ills. In his third minor league tuneup, Clemens was
sharp Monday at Triple-A and could soon rejoin the rotation.

"We don't have one savior who can do everything," Torre said.
"We need to have everybody do what they can do and not be afraid
to make mistakes."

Pitching has been a problem for the Yankees, who have used 11
different starters so far. Three starters (Phil Hughes, Jeff
Karstens and Darrel Rasner) are on the disabled list while another,
Kei Igawa, is working out his problems in the minor leagues.

With Clemens and the others likely to contribute at some point,
Torre said his pitching staff has a "bright future."

"The only way you're going to make up any ground is with
pitching," Torre said. "Scoring seven or eight runs a night
doesn't guarantee you're going to win unless you can pitch."

While the struggles drag on, team owner George Steinbrenner has
yet to discuss a managerial change, but has said general manager
Brian Cashman is "on a big hook."

Torre, who has been fired three times in his career, knows
better than to worry about job security.

"Anytime you go out there thinking about losing your job,
you're not doing your job," Torre said.

The pressure of working for Steinbrenner doesn't bother him,
either.

"It's a better pressure than being somewhere that you don't
have the players to do it and they still expect you to win," Torre
said. "Here you have the tools."