BALTIMORE -- New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman made the 3½ hour drive down the Jersey Turnpike to Camden Yards on Friday because, he said, "It's like my backyard."
"I went to high school and college down the block in DC [actually about 50 miles away], it's a short drove, there's a lot of reasons that I'm here," Cashman said.
But when asked if he would have made the trip had the Yankees won eight of their last 10 rather than the reverse, Cashman said, "Probably not. Probably not. My style is out of sight, out of mind. Unless we start to struggle. When we start to struggle, you'll see a little bit more of me."
Having fallen a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East and feeling the breath of the Red Sox, a mere six games behind in third place, the Yankees are officially struggling and their GM is officially here for the weekend.
"But I'm not worried about us," Cashman said. "I like our team. I think we got a great team. I honestly think we're fine."
Still, Cashman said he would have joined the team in Tampa Bay had it not been for some charity commitments in New York.
"I was at home watching some tough baseball games," Cashman said. "We had chances to win, just didn't get it done."
Cashman did not specify his plans or what he thought his presence would accomplish other than to say, "This is just for me to engage our staff. These guys are pros. They don't need to see me around to know we need to play better."
"I feel that [manager] Joe's [Girardi] done a lot of good things here in the last week," Cashman said. "He had to make some tough choices with guys who had some ailments, but the bigger picture is the ultimate goal of trying to win the world championship. It's September 17 and we're a lot healthier today than if you had asked me on September 12. I think based on Joe's decisions, we're in a better position to compete going into tonight's game than at any time last week, and I think we'll be better for it in the long run, even though the short term pain sucks."
Girardi said in his pregame media session he has had to chose between going all-out to win the division and secure home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs, or bringing a healthy roster into October.
"Home field advantage is nice, I've gotta tell you, and we've played extremely well at home," he said. "But I've said all along you can't risk the health of your players just for home-field advantage, it doesn't make a lot of sense. I think if you could have one or the other, you'd rather have the health of your team."
To that effect, Girardi chose to return Gardner to the starting lineup after missing four days with a sore right thumb after watching him in early batting practice, but elected to keep Swisher, sidelined with a lingering knee bruise, out after watching him run the bases in a pregame drill. And he chose to sit Jorge Posada, whose latest in a series of nagging injuries is what the Yankees have termed a "mild" concussion, in favor of Francisco Cervelli, probably insuring Posada will catch just one of the three games here this weekend, most likely Saturday.
The plan is not to just get to October but to get there with all parts in good working order, even if it means starting their playoff run on the road. "I'm not sitting here saying, 'OK, give me the wild card,'" Cashman said. "But if we're the wild card team, other teams are gonna say, 'Man we gotta face the Yankees and they're the wild card team? That stinks.' Right now, it looks like there are five teams in the AL that could run the table and win it all, and we want to be that team."