Sun, Jun 05, 2005 - Page 23 News List

Steinbrenner talks with GM and Torre

MAJOR LEAGUES After an embarrassing three-game sweep by the lowly Royals, `The Boss' conducted a conference call with Brian Cashman and Joe Torre

AP , MINNEAPOLISAP, BOSTONAP, WASHINGTONAP, CARACAS, VENEZUELA

Red Sox starting pitcher David Wells throws against the Angels during the first inning at Fenway Park in Boston on Friday. Boston defeated Los Angeles 7-4.

PHOTO: AP

Looking for answers after a historic sweep at the hands of the worst team in major league baseball, upset New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner held a conference call with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Torre on Friday.

Torre said it has become an increasingly rare occurrence in recent seasons for The Boss to include him in such discussions, but this was a rare situation.

"It's happened a number of times, but not in recent times," Torre said. "This was sticking to why we're having a tough time. All of the same questions I ask myself.

"He was unhappy. If I tried to tell you anything other than that, you'd be questioning if I was telling you the truth, and I'm not going to lie to you."

New York (27-26) has lost five games in a row, including an embarrassing three-game sweep by the lowly Kansas City Royals, just the third time in the Yankees' storied history that they've been swept in three games by a team with the worst record in the majors, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Steinbrenner participated on the call from Florida, with Torre and Cashman in Minneapolis for the series against the Minnesota Twins.

Torre and Cashman characterized the call as a "state-of-the-team" discussion and said no decisions were made at the conclusion.

"I didn't feel any better because we were talking about all the bad things that have happened," Torre said. "We talked about individuals and my feeling that the pitching is really the key for us. Why we're not hitting is everybody's mystery. It's something you just have to fight your way out of. We didn't solve anything."

Cashman said he holds regular discussions with Steinbrenner about the team, but agreed it was rare for Torre to be included.

"It was good for him to hear from Joe," Cashman said. "[Steinbrenner] is no less happy than anyone else here."

Particularly Torre, who held a closed-door meeting on Wednesday after the US$200 million Yankees dropped their second game in a row to the Royals.

Torre said he takes much of the responsibility for the team's recent struggles and was completely befuddled by the veteran group's seemingly fragile confidence.

"I'm accountable," Torre said. "I'm the manager and I'm in charge. This obviously is something that I need to find an answer for. It's up to me to find a way to make this thing start working again."

The demanding Steinbrenner was obviously upset after watching the team with the highest payroll in the major leagues get swept by a ragtag group of journeymen and youngsters in Kansas City.

"He's put up a lot of money to put this kind of a ballclub in our dugout," Torre said. "This isn't the results that should be accompanying that."

As soon as he heard about the call, Torre knew it wasn't going to be a pleasant conversation. Torre has gotten used to outbursts from Steinbrenner during his 10 years in New York. When the Yankees are winning, their owner wants them to win bigger, and when they are losing, look out.

"It's a long season and George isn't a very patient man and we understand that," Torre said. "In dealing with George, when you lose and you're supposed to be winning, it's not a happy time. But when you win, he's constantly driving you to improve, so the tone doesn't change much."

Johnny Damon lined a three-run double over the head of center fielder Steve Finley to break an eighth-inning tie Friday and give the Boston Red Sox a 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

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