05/22/12 6:50 PM ET
Fighting brutal slump, Yanks try optional BP
By Bryan Hoch and Steven Miller / MLB.com
Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones were among the volunteers to hit early before the club's contest against the Royals, though that is an opportunity generally available on a regular basis and not a response to the club's 6-for-72 showing with runners in scoring position over the past nine games.
"We're trying to keep our focus to continuing to work, trying to have some fun," Long said. "It's been tough. There's not too many people in a good mood, including myself. When you're losing games, it's not a whole lot of fun."
The Yankees do regularly perform drills about situational hitting, and Long will instruct his hitters to approach at-bats as though there are runners on in various alignments.
That sort of work can help, but Long noted that there is luck involved, and the Yankees aren't getting much of it. For example, Raul Ibanez crushed a ball to the warning track in the third inning on Monday that could have cleared the outfield wall or hit the fence for an extra-base hit instead of landing in Alex Gordon's glove.
"These guys didn't all of a sudden become bad hitters," Long said. "I'm not all of a sudden a bad hitting coach. It's just where we're at right now. When you lose six out of seven, it's probably not just one thing; it's probably a bunch of things piling up on us.
"We need to try to enjoy this as much as we can and keep in mind that it is baseball. We've got to try and have some fun. It's not a whole lot of fun right now for anybody."
Mo walking well without crutches
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have yet to set a date for surgery on the torn anterior cruciate ligament in Mariano Rivera's right knee, as he first must treat a blood clot in his right calf and attempt to strengthen his knee.
The 42-year-old closer was back in the clubhouse for the first time this homestand before the Yankees played the Royals on Tuesday and was walking well without the aid of crutches. Any pain is more a result of the blood clot than the torn ACL, Rivera said.
Rivera said the focus now is to take care of the blood clot while also taking part in limited physical therapy to improve the range of motion in his knee.
"When I think of someone tearing an anterior cruciate, I don't think of them walking around so well," said manager Joe Girardi. "The doctors are talking about waiting until it's really strong, because then the rehab is easier. It may take a little longer now, but it might be a little shorter on the back end."
Rivera said he is not experiencing any frustration because there is nothing he can do. He has the same mentality about his teammates, who entered Tuesday having lost six of seven games to drop to .500.
"The team's not doing so well, but we've been through that before," Rivera said. "You don't have to feel sorry for yourself. As long as our mentality is good, everything will pass."
Girardi knows sluggers will produce, in time
NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi may have shuffled his lineup on Tuesday, keeping Mark Teixeira seventh in the order for the second time in as many games, but there isn't much else the Yankees' manager can envision himself doing to shake up his club's struggles.
The Yankees' roster construction is largely inflexible, with the organization having placed massive financial bets on stars like Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira to be productive forces in their order for years to come. As such, Girardi has few buttons to push.
"These are the guys that have to get it done for us," Girardi said. "These are our guys that we're committed to, that we see do it year after year after year."
Even Teixeira will eventually be promoted in the order if and when he returns to full health; the Yankees' game plan for the foreseeable future is to plug in the same names over and over again, believing that the results must change.
"We're committed to them, and they have to find a way to get it done," Girardi said. "It's no different than a year that they put up 35 [home runs] and 115 [RBIs]. They have to find a way to get it done. In saying this, I'm not putting pressure on them, but I've seen it over and over and over."
Both Teixeira and Rodriguez have said that they believe their offensive numbers can still reach the lofty levels of 30 or more homers and 100 or more RBIs, despite their respective starts. Rodriguez entered Tuesday batting .276 with five home runs, five doubles and 15 RBIs, while Teixeira -- weakened for much of the season by inflamed bronchial airways -- was hitting .227 with five homers, nine doubles and 20 RBIs.
"If you ask me before the game, I feel like I'm going to go out and hit three rockets," Rodriguez said. "One through nine, we're not swinging the bats well. You can shuffle [the lineup] any way you want. Every time I go up there, I feel like I'm going to crush, and I haven't been doing enough of that."
The Yankees entered play on Tuesday batting .189 (7-for-37) with the bases loaded this season, the 12th-lowest average in the American League. They had just one hit in their last 21 plate appearances with the bases loaded, coming on Robinson Cano's May 6 grand slam at Kansas City. New York batted an AL-leading .337 (55-for-163) last year and a Major League-high .344 (64-for-186) in 2010.
The Yankees' 21-21 record entering play on Tuesday marked the latest in a season the club's record had been .500 or lower since entering play on June 12, 2008, at 33-33.
On this date in 1963, Mickey Mantle hit a walk-off home run facing the Athletics' Bill Fischer that struck the upper deck frieze in right field at Yankee Stadium. It marked the second time in his career that Mantle hit the frieze, having also done it on May 30, 1956, off the Senators' Pedro Ramos.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.