Hal Steinbrenner was kicked to the curb Wednesday. But he’s not going to do the same thing to Brian Cashman or Joe Girardi.
The Yankees owner, after being told by a lobby security guard that he had to take an interview session at Major League Baseball’s Park Avenue headquarters out to the sidewalk, expressed confidence in his general manager and manager despite the Yankees’ poor start to the season.
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Steinbrenner laid the blame for the Yankees’ 16-22 record going into Wednesday night squarely at the feet of their underperforming players.
“The coaches and manager, I think they are doing all they can,” Steinbrenner said after being banished to the land of the smokers outside the building along with a half-dozen reporters and one photographer. “I think they are doing a good job. I’ve got no complaints there. I think Cash made some good trades. I think [Starlin] Castro’s worked out great. I think [Aaron] Hicks has worked out great. Now that’s he’s playing every day, he’s starting to hit.”
Of the players, Steinbrenner patted his chest at heart level and said: “Sooner or later, it comes down to the guys to pull through.”
Steinbrenner’s harshest comments, though, were directed at righthander Michael Pineda, who fell to 1-5 with a 6.60 ERA with another subpar performance on Tuesday in the Yankees’ 5-3 loss to the Diamondbacks.
“Pineda’s concerning,” Steinbrenner said. “All these strikeouts, and yet he’s giving up all these runs. Clearly, he’s giving up runs early. Clearly, there’s some issues with his slider. Again, [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild] can only do so much with whatever is technically wrong with the delivery. Larry’s going to work on it, but the rest is up to Pineda to figure out. I mean, he’s a professional and that’s what we expect from him and that’s what his teammates expect from him.”
Steinbrenner also mentioned the offensive struggles of Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley and the ineffectiveness and elbow injury of pitcher Luis Severino.
“When you look at a guy like Mark Teixeira, clearly he’s not playing to his potential with the bat,” he said. “Chase Headley, same thing. Now you’re starting to see him hit, see him more relaxed. He’s making harder contact. That has to continue.”
Of Severino, he said: “We all know Severino has good stuff. I’m not worried about his stuff. We saw that the last two months of last year. We’ll see about the injury and how much that played into his performance the last few outings. I also think there was a confidence issue at some point. He is a rookie. This is his first downturn, if you will . . . Every player is going to have to learn how to push through that downturn the first time and get through it. And he will.”
Asked to assess the state of the team, Steinbrenner said: “Needless to say, the first five weeks were disappointing. Frustrating. Particularly looking at the offense, not living up to their potential. Last homestand was promising, I thought.”
The Yankees went 7-3 on the homestand that ended Sunday, but then lost two in a row against the Diamondbacks in the desert.
“What we can’t start having now is for our starting pitchers to give up five, six, seven runs,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ve got to start firing on all cylinders.”
Steinbrenner reiterated for the umpteen thousandth time that the team is not for sale. The Yankees are a family business, and off the field business is still good.
“Tickets are actually up from last year, which is a good sign,” he said. “Season tickets are slightly up, which is the first time in four or five years that that’s been the case. I don’t know if it’s making the playoffs [last year] one game or not. I don’t know if it’s some of the young players — Hicks, Castro, [Aroldis] Chapman, some of the guys we’ve brought on. I don’t know, but the fans have been excited.”