05/28/07 8:35 PM ET
Notes: Torre has closed-door meeting
Manager wants team to show its 'personality' more on field
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The Yankees normally hold an extended meeting before opening each road series, but the team's recent lackluster play prompted manager Joe Torre to call for additional time as the club prepares to begin a three-city, 10-game road trip that may further define its season.
"Right now, we've got to straighten out our house here," Torre said. "We're six games under .500 and we know we're much better than that. We have to work toward that goal. Our playoff opportunity is going to come from our record, not from who we're chasing."
While Torre would not spell out the contents of the meeting, which lasted for more than 40 minutes, the manager touched on several general ideas during a pregame session with reporters that point to problems plaguing the 21-27 Yankees.
The Yankees suffered a series sweep at the hands of the Angels over the weekend in New York to fall below .500 at Yankee Stadium, with the division-leading Red Sox pulling off into the distance. Torre said he has seen poor body language of late from some of his players, which he believes is attributable to a frustrated atmosphere.
"I think they know they're better than that," Torre said. "There's unrest. They want to get out on this field and show their personality, and right now, our personality is lacking."
Torre also said that he sensed some players had shown tentativeness, as though they seemed afraid to make errors. Physical errors could be tolerated, but Torre stressed that he'd prefer the mistakes be made of the aggressive variety.
"This is a game of negative statistics anyway, right from the .300 hitter on down," Torre said. "You just have to make sure that you don't lose the fact that you've got to stay on the balls of your feet and not on the heels."
Yankees captain Derek Jeter has continuously offered a tight-lipped approach regarding what he says behind closed doors and to whom he says it, but Jeter acknowledged frustration has found a presence in the clubhouse. He said winning is the only solution.
"It should bother you," Jeter said. "It should be something that doesn't make you feel good. You never accept it. When you start accepting losing, that's when you're in trouble."
Clemens class: The most important part of Roger Clemens' Minor League tour of duty has been his pitching, and he performed with aplomb for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, hurling six shutout, two-hit innings while striking out six and walking two.
As the Yankees wait and determine what Clemens' next step will be -- another Minor League start, perhaps, but more likely a big-league assignment in Boston or Chicago -- the 44-year-old right-hander is free to move forward on the part of his job he enjoys even more; counseling young pitchers.
Already this year, Clemens' tutoring sessions have been well-attended after workouts at the University of Kentucky, at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., and at Waterfront Park in Trenton, N.J. On Monday, PNC Field in Moosic, Pa., got its chance to see the Rocket up close and personal.
"I'm sure they're looking forward to it," said right-hander Tyler Clippard, who started the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before being recalled this month.
"I know Roger's a guy who's not afraid to help guys out as far as where he's been and what he knows, and pass on some knowledge. Hopefully, all those guys take it all in. I know I'm looking forward to it when he comes here. I'm sure he's going to have a blast."
But for Clippard, Clemens' pending promotion could spell a trip back to Triple-A. The 22-year-old right-hander -- preparing for his third Major League start Wednesday -- said that there wasn't much sense in worrying about that hypothetical.
"It is what it is," Clippard said. "All I can do is go out there and try to pitch well every time they give me the ball, and hopefully I can do well and hang around."
Clemens appearance: Clemens will be among a group of former Yankees, including Dave Winfield, Tino Martinez, Joe Girardi and Whitey Ford, on hand at the 3rd Annual "Pinstripes in the Park" on Wednesday in New York City's Bryant Park, located at 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue.
The first 3,000 fans entering the park will receive a limited edition Continental Airlines blanket, with the official Pinstripes in the Park logo. The lawn opens at 5:30 p.m. ET, and festivities begin at 6 p.m.
Signs of health: Johnny Damon, inserted to patrol center field, returned to the Yankees' lineup Monday after missing a pair of starts over the weekend against the Angels to rest his sore calves and right Achilles.
Torre said that he didn't believe the Rogers Centre's artificial turf would be any more of a hindrance to Damon, who has been advised to keep his feet elevated whenever possible and is continuing massage and whirlpool therapy treatments to ward off future recurrences.
The Yankees are also mulling their next step with designated hitter Jason Giambi, who has been slowed by a bone spur and plantar fasciitis in his left heel.
Giambi said in New York that a cortisone shot would be considered as an option, but Torre said that he hadn't heard anything further on that topic from the club's medical staff.
Under the weather: Right-handed reliever Scott Proctor came down with a stomach virus and was not expected to be available to pitch on Monday, Torre said.
Proctor walked three and allowed one hit in an ineffective seventh-inning appearance on Sunday against the Angels, suffering his second loss and third blown save of the season.
Coming up: The Yankees and Blue Jays play the second game of their three-game series at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday, with New York sending left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-3, 2.66 ERA) to the mound. Toronto counters with right-hander Shaun Marcum (2-2, 4.33 ERA), and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.