The line to the elevator on Citi Field's fifth-floor concourse already was filled with fans by the time Brian Cashman arrived late Sunday night, and he was in no mood to wait around after another loss. So he did what any good general manager does best: He made a decisive decision. He headed for the ramps.
As the Yankees capped a frustrating week with a failed ninth-inning comeback, it seemed somewhat telling that Cashman showed no hesitancy about walking among the masses. He may not have been wearing a Yankees hat, but on nights like this, he's a fan, too. The obvious look of disappointment on his face made him fit right in.
But when Cashman returned to his Yankee Stadium office Monday morning, those emotions were replaced by resolve. Why? In short, track records.
Cashman does not believe Mark Teixeira is a .209 hitter. He does not expect Derek Jeter to finish with a .320 on-base percentage. And he doesn't foresee CC Sabathia continuing to give up homers at this rate. This team is filled with veterans whom he believes will find their way.
"Our team has hit a spell here that tests your mettle, and that's what you experience every year," Cashman said. "You just got to find a way to fight through it until things start going back on line."
Last season, the Yankees lost seven of nine in May and nine of 13 in June, two tough stretches that were easily forgotten when they took off on a second-half surge en route to their 27th world championship.
"I don't look back and say we did it last year so it's OK," Cashman said. Instead, he looks at the individual struggles and trusts that what is happening to each of his players right now represents a fluke, not a troubling theme.
The players agree with him, of course. "There's a lot of frustration because we know we're capable of doing a lot more," Alex Rodriguez said after striking out with two men on to end Sunday night's game. Added Teixeira, "We expect more of ourselves."
Many players said yesterday's day off was a perfectly timed getaway, and Joe Girardi agreed. "We've had some long games, some emotional games," he said Sunday night, "so I think the off day comes at a good time."
The Yankees have lost five of six and 10 of 15, but when they return to action Tuesday night in Minnesota, they will kick off a stretch in which 13 of their next 19 games come against teams with losing records. And Cashman thinks the injury pendulum soon might swing in their favor, beginning with Curtis Granderson.
Out since May 1 with a groin injury, Granderson went 3-for-5 in his third rehab game yesterday. "If everything goes perfect,'' Cashman said, "we'll have him here by Friday."
The Yankees are 51/2 games behind the Rays. "It's a problem," Cashman said, "but it's not something you can't overcome. It's a long way to go and we can go one of two ways. We can catapult ourselves above everybody else or we can bury ourselves. But we control our own destiny . . . because if we play good baseball for a large part of the season, I like our chances."
Notes & quotes: Jorge Posada, out with a hairline fracture in his right foot suffered May 16, will be re-examined in the next few days, Cashman said. Posada, whose foot has been in a boot since last week, is expected to be out until the middle of June.