Steinbrenner to talk with GM Cashman about deal during season

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner plans to talk about a new contract with general manager Brian Cashman before the regular season ends.

Cashman, in the final year of his current contract, said shortly after arriving at spring training that he wanted to keep any discussion of a new deal between himself and the Steinbrenner family.

"I want to concentrate on the season, and he does, too," Hank Steinbrenner said Monday. "But during the course of the season, we will talk. It will just happen. We'll be sitting together at the game, and we'll start talking about it. It's just that simple."

Cashman joined the Yankees as a 19-year-old intern in June 1986. He succeeded Bob Watson as general manager after the 1997 season.

"I've known Cash for a long time," Steinbrenner said. "He's been with our family for a long, long time. I think the big thing is with Brian is the organization he put in place. You know, it's not based on just one decision as far as do a trade or don't do a trade, or sign a free agent or don't."

Steinbrenner said he hasn't even asked Cashman whether the GM would want to stay on.

"I have no idea yet," Steinbrenner said. "We haven't even talked."

Steinbrenner has been impressed thus far by the spring training camp run by new manager Joe Girardi, who replaced Joe Torre last October.

"I love what he does," Steinbrenner said. "I love what he's doing here, I mean I really do. He's a rare combination of things. The players like him, they respect him and they even have a little bit of fear of him. He can be intimidating. Extremely smart. Tough guy. Fiery. But they really like him, too. It's a tough thing to achieve as a leader."

Steinbrenner will be keeping a close eye during exhibition games on Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, the Yankees' trio of touted young pitchers.

"They're going to take it easy with them, build up their pitches," Steinbrenner said. "We'll be careful with them, but obviously everybody's going to be watching them."

Hughes was offered in trade talks with Minnesota about ace Johan Santana, who was dealt to the New York Mets after the Yankees, on the advice of Cashman, withdrew from negotiations.

"Nobody's going to be as patient with young pitchers as me," Steinbrenner said. "I don't care if they have 10 bad starts in a row, which they won't, but I don't care if they do. I know what they can do. We all know what they can do. It just takes patience. You don't throw them to the sharks, otherwise their arms fall off."

Steinbrenner did admit he will be following Santana's performance this year.

"It has nothing to do with Chamberlain, Hughes or Kennedy," Steinbrenner said. "It's just Santana is Santana. Obviously it will be hard to avoid seeing what he does."

Owner George Steinbrenner spent about an hour in Max's Cafe at Legends Field. At various times he was joined by sons Hank and Hal, plus daughters Jessica and Jennifer.

In other news, Andy Pettitte threw 40 pitches, split into two segments, during his first batting practice session. Pettitte said he is on target to be ready for Opening Day.

"It was good to get on a mound with a batter in there," Pettitte said. "I feel good. My arm was dragging a little bit, but my legs are feeling better every day."

Closer Mariano Rivera is not expected to make his first spring training appearance until early next week.

"He won't work the first couple games," Girardi said. "We'll get him going, but there's no rush like it's been every spring. We know what Mo is going to give us."

The Yankees open the exhibition season Friday against South Florida. Chamberlain, Kennedy and Hughes are scheduled to pitch.