TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees general manager Brian Cashman understands why Hank Steinbrenner expressed frustration about last season.
Steinbrenner, the team’s co-chairman, said this week that the Yankees lacked hunger last year and maybe “were riding the wave of ’09 a little too much.” New York lost to Texas in the AL championship series, one year after the Yankees won their 27th World Series title.
“Why we fall short, how we fell short, the bottom line is we fell short,” Cashman said on Wednesday. “It’s our job to make sure that anything that prevents us from getting there gets eliminated. Whether it’s complacency, whether it’s a lack of hunger, whether it’s a lack of talent, whether it’s not the right moves by my part, whatever they are, it’s our job to do better.”
“All that matters, basically, is find a way to get the job done, period,” Cashman added. “And that’s all he cares about. And that’s the right attitude. Get the job done. It’s my job, with Joe Girardi and these players and our ownership to find a way to win a few more games than we did last year. If we can do that, we’ll get back to where we want to be and all will be better in the world.”
Steinbrenner addressed last season on both Monday and Tuesday with reporters.
“We almost got back to the World Series, but ‘almost,’ obviously, isn’t good enough in our market,” Cashman said. “So, every now and then, there’s a healthy reminder of what comes with not crossing the finish line. It’s going to happen. It’s as simple as that. We’re all here for one reason, to try and add another flag to this facility and another ring for the finger. That’s what it’s all about.”
Steinbrenner also called it an insult to the players to say Boston is the AL East favorite. Cashman does consider the Red Sox to the favorite following the offseason additions of left fielder Carl Crawford and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
“We’re the hunter,” Cashman said. “At the end of the day, no one is conceding anything. They’ve got the pole position because of the winter that they had and the winter I personally had. What I do have here will compete for that title. I’m not afraid of the challenge, and I’m not afraid to take this team against anybody out there, but at the same time I’m not afraid to be honest with you.”
Also, starting catcher Russell Martin, coming off offseason surgery for a small tear in his right knee, will not be ready for Saturday’s spring training opener against Philadelphia.
“It’s still a little bit stiff … it’s not 100 percent, yet,” Martin said. “It’s more of a conservative approach. I want to be ready for the season. Just that mindset of not wanting to get ahead of myself and have a setback. How it felt the first day, compared to now, the progression has been really good.”
Cashman has no concerns about Martin’s status for the regular-season opener. Manager Joe Girardi thinks Martin might miss just three or four games.
“If it takes longer, fine,” Girardi said. “I don’t want a setback.”
Martin has been catching bullpens and batting practice, but has not started blocking balls in the dirt.
NOTES: Spring training instructor Yogi Berra arrived in camp. … Yankees closer Mariano Rivera threw 30 pitches in his first bullpen session. … C Austin Romine, INF Eduardo Nunez and team vice president Billy Connors missed the workout due to illness. “We have it going around,” Girardi said. “It’s like a head cold and the throat.” Cashman said he was under the weather on Tuesday.