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Cashman: No reason for Yankees to panic

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks to reporters

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks to reporters before a game in 2010. Photo Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

BALTIMORE - Brian Cashman said there is definitely some disappointment about how this nine-game trip has started, with the Yankees losing five of six to the Rangers and Rays.

But the general manager also takes the long view.

"We don't have to win these series at all costs," Cashman said by phone Thursday. "We're in this thing to win a World Series. Our focus is a World Series, not 10 years from now being known as division champions. If you're not World Series champions, nothing else matters. Nobody really remembers."

To be clear, as Cashman said before the trip, winning the division is important.

But not imperative.

Put another way, he has no issues with any of the moves manager Joe Girardi has made in the last week - moves that caused so much consternation among some fans and media. Whether it be the handling of the bullpen or anything else.

"For this series in Baltimore we're better equipped than we were going into [last weekend in Texas] because the manager made decisions with the big picture in mind," Cashman said. "That doesn't mean we're conceding anything. We could have swept the whole series, but we didn't. Tampa won those games and you have to give them credit. We'll live to fight another day."

Cashman isn't drawing any conclusions or panicking because the Yankees lost five of six to teams they could see in the postseason.

"I'm not going to take last week's results and treat that small sample size as if it's 150 games, a reflection of our season," he said. "That's stupid."

But the Yankees haven't played great entering the Orioles series that begins Friday night, having lost eight of 10 games, their poorest stretch of the season. After Wednesday's 4-3 loss, Alex Rodriguez said it was simply the "wall" just about every team hits at some point in its season. There may be alarm in the fan and media constituencies, but not in the clubhouse or front office.

"We're going through a combination of injuries and underperformance right now and that brings out the naysayers," Cashman said.

"We just need to deal with what we have to deal with. We do care about winning [the division]. But do you want to run your bullpen into the ground for games this week or do you want to make sure guys are healthy for the entire run? I'd rather be where we're currently sitting and be healthy for the entire run."

Cashman said Brett Gardner (right wrist) could have played Wednesday night but the organization decided to sit him an extra day. He said Nick Swisher's left knee is "not a concern other than timing," though he added there's no timetable for a return.

The team should receive a boost Sunday when Andy Pettitte returns, something Cashman looks forward to, but he also credited Dustin Moseley and Ivan Nova for providing enough quality starts in the lefthander's absence to keep the rotation afloat.

Despite their recent struggles, the Yankees still aren't in a bad spot and are, most important to Cashman, trying to get healthy for the most significant time of the year.

"We have a six-game lead on Boston for the wild card, we're a half-game out of first place, but we're a lot healthier on Sept. 16 than we were on Sept. 13," Cashman said. "That's important, that matters, that's vital."

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