Final series before Deadline big for Yankees

Outcome of three games vs. Rays could alter perception about club

Final series before Deadline big for Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG -- The non-waiver Trade Deadline is Monday. Three games against the Rays are the last chance the Yankees have to define themselves to the front office.

"I think this weekend is big for us. I do," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before a 5-1 loss in the series opener. "I think people are looking at us different. That's why I think this weekend is important. To keep that consistency."

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Girardi thinks people are looking at the Yankees differently because they have been baseball's hottest team over the past two weeks. They entered Friday having won 8 of their last 11 games and 10 of 15, and are one of two teams to improve their winning percentage each month.

Still, a chance to avoid becoming wholesale sellers at the Deadline likely rests in the three games against the AL East-worst Rays.

"I think maybe everyone looks at us different," Girardi said, when asked if the front office sees the team differently. "Maybe the Yankees are getting going. I don't get too caught up in it. My job is to manage the club and win games."

Girardi said he has daily conversations with general manager Brian Cashman, but wouldn't disclose the content of those talks. New York has already dealt closer Aroldis Chapman this week to the Cubs, leaving the Yankees with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in the back end of the bullpen.

There is a different mindset and set of priorities, Girardi said, for the manager, who wants to win now, and the general manager, who has to balance that goal with a look at the long term as well. There are players around the league that Girardi sees that he thinks would be a good fit on his team.

"I think the focus has always been to win, to win championships," Girardi said of the front office. "I think that has always been the focus. I think they are going to do whatever they think is the right thing to make our team better."

Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.