Steinbrenner not writing off season, says Yanks 'going to win it next year'

TAMPA, Fla. -- Hank Steinbrenner blames injuries for the New York Yankees' slide from contention.

The Yankees are in danger of missing of the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Following four straight losses, they began Tuesday nine games back of AL East-leading Tampa Bay and five behind Boston, the wild-card leader.

"I'm not writing off this season," the team's co-chairman said Tuesday. "They're trying hard to win. There's only so much you can do. They're not supermen."

The Yankees are missing starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, who likely will miss the rest of the season because of a foot injury, and Joba Chamberlain, who hopes to return from right rotator cuff tendinitis. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy have missed most of the season.

"I think it's very simple, we've been devastated by injuries. No team I've ever seen in baseball has been decimated like this. It would kill any team," Steinbrenner said. "Imagine the Red Sox without [Josh] Beckett and [Jon] Lester. Pitching is 70 percent of the game. Wang won 19 games two straight years. Chamberlain became the most dominating pitcher in baseball. You can't lose two guys like that."

New York also is missing catcher Jorge Posada, out for the year after shoulder surgery, and left fielder Hideki Matsui, out since June 22 because of a knee injury.

"It's not making excuses. It's reality. That's part of the game. That's clearly our problem," Steinbrenner said.

Regardless of how this season ends, Steinbrenner thinks the 2009 Yankees will be the team to beat in the AL East.

"We're going to win it next year," he said. "If we need to add a top veteran pitcher, we'll do that. We'll do whatever we need to do. Next year we'll be extremely dangerous."