Hobbled Yankees won't ask for sympathy
Girardi, Cashman united in looking for solutions with hand dealt to them
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees continued to say all the right things. What else can they do? That's the admirable thing about this franchise. Even as their injury list grows ridiculously long, the bottom line does not change.
"Never," Derek Jeter said.
"What can you do?" Jeter asked. "Other guys have got to step up. That's the bottom line."
Jeter was standing in the middle of a quiet clubhouse after a 9-7 loss to the Mets at Yankee Stadium on Monday night. It was a splendid game, with 46,517 seeing lead changes and punches and counter-punches.
In the end, the Yankees lost because three members of a bullpen that had been mostly solid allowed five runs in three innings. But losing one game seemed less important than everything else that's happening with the Yanks these days.
That they're still a game over .500 at 19-18 and a mere 1 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East gives them hope at a time when three members of their rotation -- CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova -- are on the disabled list.
And that's just a start.
First baseman Mark Teixeira was limited to pinch-hitting duty to rest his tired legs and tight left groin. Reliever Shawn Kelley (back) and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (back) were unavailable to play, and outfielder Carlos Beltran hyperextended his right elbow while working in the batting cage between at-bats.
Here's the thing about the Yankees. They never alibi. They never ask for your sympathy. They never lower expectations, either. When reporters gather around to ask if there's a tipping point, they're told to go find another angle.
"You've just got to find a way," manager Joe Girardi said. "Some people have to step up."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said the same thing consistently for years. He said that later owner George Steinbrenner's presence will always loom large at Yankee Stadium, which means all that matters is the bottom line.
"We have a very deep team," Teixeira said. "We have a bunch of guys that are champing at the bit to get at-bats. We have All-Stars sitting on the bench. We'll fill in when we need to fill in, and guys that are bumped and bruised, we'll give 'em a day here and there, and get back at it."
For his part, Teixeira vowed to be back in the lineup on Tuesday against the Mets, even though he was limping noticeably after a pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
So you may not recognize these Yankees for awhile. For instance, Alfonso Soriano making his fourth career start in right field on Monday. In Soriano's 16 big league seasons, the Yanks have handed him a brand new challenge.
Didn't someone once say life begins at 38? If you didn't know one other thing about these 2014 Yankees, this idea of running Soriano out to right field speaks volumes.
And Kelly Johnson got his 12th career start at first base. Before this season, he'd started there twice in eight seasons.
And Girardi penciled in Yangervis Solarte at third base again. Solarte has become a regular there, a godsend for a team forced to piece things together on the fly.
Every successful team has a couple of magical stories, and Solarte is the man for the Yankees in 2014. This is his ninth professional season, his third organization. He hasn't been given anything, either.
Solarte won a spot on the roster in Spring Training and then took advantage of every opportunity. There's a lesson for all of us in there somewhere. Solarte is hitting .315, and other than, say, Jeter, he's getting the biggest cheers at Yankee Stadium.
If this thing plays out the way the Yankees hope it will, Solarte is going to end up being one of the coolest stars in sports this summer.
But I digress.
When people mention bad luck or injuries or any of that stuff, Cashman simply won't listen.
"You've got to grit your teeth and bear it a little bit and fight through it," he said.
Cashman means that if the Yankees insert David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Alfredo Aceves in their rotation, they're going to expect results the same way they would from Sabathia, Pineda, etc.
"All teams are going to go through it," Girardi said. "We have to find a way to get through it until we get these guys back."
Here's the other part of the equation. The Yankees probably know the AL East is unlikely to get away from them.
It may be the closest division in baseball, but all five teams are dealing with issues. The Yanks seem fairly confident that Sabathia and Pineda will be back in the rotation at some point, and when that happens, they'll be a better, deeper team.
Girardi was asked how the Yankees could remain so unflappable in the wake of so much adversity. He offered an answer that revealed more of himself than usual, an answer that tells you all you need to know about the core beliefs of the Yanks.
"I don't really get down about it," Girardi said. "I've been taught from a young age, from my parents, that you just keep going. I witnessed my mother do that all the time because she was a cancer patient. And you just keep going. There's no reason to worry about what's behind you. You've got to find a way to try and fix it. And that's what we try to do. You look at possibilities. We make a decision and do the best we can."
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.