Yanks worried about present

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

The New York Yankees usually strut into the Rogers Centre like they own the joint.

But baseball's most storied franchise has been knocked down a peg or two this year and the strut has disappeared.

With the 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays last night, the Yankees are 21-28, 131/2 games behind the AL East leading Boston Red Sox, and have lost four in a row.

For those reasons, manager Joe Torre held an extra long team meeting prior to yesterday's game and while he refused to reveal what was said, he did make the point that he does not want his players worrying about his job, despite rumours emanating out of the Big Apple that he may be gassed as manager by as early as tomorrow.

"I hope not," Torre said, when asked if the players were taking on the added pressure of trying to save his job. "It's tough enough to play this game without saying, 'Boy, we need to try to save somebody's job.'

"Whatever threats seem to be coming down (from owner George Steinbrenner) or ultimatums or whatever you want to call them, I don't think it has anything to do with what (the players) do," said Torre, who has managed in New York for 11 years, guiding the Yankees to the post-season in each of those seasons. "I've always felt as a manager, any time you go out there thinking about saving your job, you're not doing your job. You have to think in terms of winning ball games."

As for the rumours that he may be on the way out, Torre is taking it all in stride.

"You know when you sign on here what goes with it," he said.

Outfielder Johnny Damon said following last night's loss that firing Torre would be precisely the wrong thing to do.

"We definitely don't want to see that. Joe is a tremendous leader and it's not Joe who is making the mistakes out there, it's the players," Damon said. "We're playing hard. Our whole thing this year has been (injuries). In the end, all the guys believe we can make the playoffs. When we start walking with our heads down, that's when we need to start worrying."

The Yankees have had 14 players on the disabled list this year.

Last night's starter Matt DeSalvo was the sixth rookie to start, so you know the team is waiting with bated breath for the arrival of Roger Clemens, who last night pitched a tidy six innings for the club's triple-A affiliate, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, giving up just two hits and no runs. But Torre said Clemons can't be expected to come in and save the season single-handedly.

"He can only pitch one game at a time," Torre said. "It's not like a basketball team where ... all of a sudden he's the difference every single day. This is a team effort."


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