Yanks understand Hank's frustrations
Team says it has the energy, but that hasn't translated to wins
ST. PETERSBURG -- Now that Hank Steinbrenner's voice carries a similar tone and volume to the missives once barked by his father, it was only a matter of time before the Yankees' co-chairperson broke his silence, given the club's underwhelming start in the American League East.
George Steinbrenner would not be offering platitudes about a 19-21 start, and neither will any of the Yankees. Manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday that he doesn't just accept the younger Steinbrenner's criticism; he also agrees with it.
"Hank's watched us all year long, and he's not happy," Girardi said. "And I don't blame him. I'm not happy. Mr. [Brian] Cashman's not happy, nobody's happy, and our players aren't happy. I don't blame him."
"Hank expects to win today and every day, and I know -- I've been in the office. He has a passion for winning, just like his father and his brother and sister and mother and everyone involved. Hank expects us to win this year and every day."
Steinbrenner first voiced his concerns to the New York Post for Wednesday's editions, and later told the Associated Press that the Yankees have "to play smarter and harder." Steinbrenner, who works from the club's facilities in Tampa, Fla., was spotted entering Tropicana Field for Wednesday's game after not attending the first two games of the series.
"He's the owner, and he wants us to win," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "His dad did the same thing. He wants to win. That's the bottom line, and you should want to win. I think if he were silent, that's when you start to worry."
Steinbrenner was also expected to travel to New York on Friday for the opening game of the Subway Series against the Mets, which could create a whole new storyline. The Mets' scheduled starter for Friday is left-hander Johan Santana, for whom Steinbrenner openly pined before the Yankees decided to hold on to pitching prospects like Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy instead.
Jeter said that the Yankees' recent troubles -- they'd lost five of seven heading into Wednesday's game -- were more due to players struggling, as opposed to a lack of effort. As Jeter said, teams that win games look like they're playing hard, but teams that lose games give off the perception that they are not playing hard.
"People here are working hard and people here care about results," Jeter said. "We've just hit a rough stretch, that's the bottom line. If we play good for two weeks, then everyone says how great we are. It seems like we have the same conversation at some point every season."
The Yankees were nearly silent for the first eight innings on Tuesday, handcuffed before Hideki Matsui launched a game-tying solo home run with one out in the ninth inning. It was the only run the Yankees would manage in an otherwise sleepy effort, compounded by the fact that an excitable Rays team celebrated moving into first place in the American League East with the victory.
"We haven't done anything yet," Yankees outfielder Bobby Abreu said. "We haven't been on base and we haven't produced like a team. That's our only problem right now. Our pitchers are doing such a good job. [Chien-Ming] Wang did an outstanding job last night, and our relievers did a good job. We have to score some runs -- I think that's the only problem we have right now."
Girardi -- who called his first closed-door team meeting of his Yankees tenure on Wednesday -- said that clubs never look good when they aren't scoring, but that he believes the energy within the club is good.
Still, that energy must begin to translate into victories to satisfy ownership, a fact of life within the pipeline of command that should shock no one.
"If you're a Yankee and you're part of the Yankee family and play for the Steinbrenners, you know their expectations," Girardi said. "It's the same expectations of the whole organization, and it starts at the top with them. You know that when you get here."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.