JAMESBURG, N.J. -- Brian Cashman said yesterday the Yankees "desperately" needed Derek Jeter's two-homer performance in Sunday's win over the Rangers. But the general manager stopped short of saying Jeter needed it.
"Do I think he personally needs it? No," he said. "Do I think that it changes the focus for a period of time? Absolutely."
Cashman, speaking before the inaugural Yankees Pinstripe Bowl charity golf outing at Forsgate Country Club, credited the Yankees' captain for leading the team to a 12-5 victory in a game in which the Yankees committed four errors.
"Desperately what we needed," Cashman said. "It was a game I think we tried to do everything we could to put ourselves in a position to not win. But Derek said, 'No way, Jose.' "
Jeter (.276 with the two home runs and nine RBIs) went 4-for-6 Sunday and 11-for-28 (.393) on the Yankees' 3-4 road trip. That hot streak should keep the drop-Jeter-in-the-lineup wolves at bay for a few days. Cashman said Jeter has been singled out because of who he is, but the GM said he is "not really focused" on the shortstop's early season struggles.
"He's still an above-average shortstop at the position," Cashman said. "Especially offensively . . . We've got about five guys in that lineup that are struggling. He's taking a lot of the questions or has been for the first month . . . I think his name has given other aspects of the offense some cover."
Cashman repeated something he first said in spring training -- that the best hitters should get the most at-bats. Since Jeter has only hit first or second this season, that indicates Cashman and Joe Girardi still consider him one of their best.
"I am a firm believer that your best hitters should get the most at-bats, period," Cashman said.
Cashman pointed to the Yankees' decision to start the season with Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot against righthanded pitchers and then to drop him down when he struggled as an example of the Yankees' willingness to tinker with their batting order. "I think we're currently trying to determine and decipher where one through nine we need to be offensively," he said. "Over time the game always tells you where you need to be."
Notes & quotes: Cashman said the Yankees are willing to be patient with DH Jorge Posada, who is batting .152, with six HRs and 14 RBIs. "I expected Jorge to struggle coming out of the gate because his history as a DH was never really strong," he said. "He's learning something completely different and new and very difficult, so he needs the time to make the adjustment to that. And we're giving him that time."