PHOENIX — No offense taken.
That basically sums up the reaction of three of the four players managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner mentioned by name regarding the Yankees’ lousy start to the season. Steinbrenner named them Wednesday when he spoke with reporters at the quarterly owners meetings in New York.
“I don’t blame him,” said the switch-hitting Mark Teixeira, who brought a .211/.318/.313 slash line into Wednesday night’s game against Arizona. “I’ve been terrible the last month. I just have to get it going, especially left-handed.”
Switch-hitting third baseman Chase Headley, toting a .196/.287/.262 slash line into Wednesday, was also singled out, as were struggling pitchers Michael Pineda and Luis Severino, who was placed on the DL last week with a right triceps strain.
“Obviously the numbers aren’t where they normally are,” said Headley, who has been better of late, which Steinbrenner did point out, reaching safely in his last eight games entering Wednesday. “It’s his team. He wants to win, we want to win, and I know at this point I’m not performing the way that I hope to.”
Headley continued: “It doesn’t really mean anything to me to be honest. I don’t need a reminder, and I don’t mean that in a negative way toward him, I know I’m not playing the way I’m capable of. I know I have to pick up. If I’m playing better maybe we win a couple of more games, and some other guys I’m sure feel the same way.”
Pineda, who had a stellar spring and was looked at by some as a potential front-end-of-the-rotation cog, fell to 1-5 with a 6.60 Tuesday after he allowed five runs and nine hits.
“It doesn’t bother me for him to say that,” Pineda said of Steinbrenner’s comments, which included the owner using the word “concerning” to describe his performance so far. “I expect a lot of myself because I can be better.”
Pineda said Steinbrenner’s comments didn’t add any additional stress.
“Being a baseball player, there’s pressure, being a Yankee there’s pressure,” he said.
Headley and Teixeira agreed.
“I don’t rely on anybody to tell me whether I’m playing good or not,” Headley said. “I’m pretty aware of that myself. I’m just going to try and be better. That’s it. I feel like I’m on the right track and that’s where my focus is.”
Teixeira, hitting .152 with a .264 on-base percentage left-handed compared to .306/.404 right-handed and without a homer since April 13, said the owner’s remarks won’t help or hinder him.
“I don’t need any extra motivation,” Teixeira said. “I just have to go out there and perform. It doesn’t really matter what anyone says.”
Joe Girardi, whose job is not in jeopardy, according to Steinbrenner, said the buck still stops with him as manager.
“I always take full responsibility for what happens, good or bad,” Girardi said. “It’s my job to get the best out of the players and right now we’re not performing to the level I think we’re capable.”
As of Wednesday night, that was as the last-place team in the AL East.
It’s still early but . . .
“At a certain point you go from a good team that’s playing bad to being a bad team,” Teixeira said. “I don’t think we’re there yet, I still think we’re a good team. But we obviously have to win more games, and we’re just not getting the job done, and I need to be a big part of that.”