Cashman not ready to count out Yankees

Cashman not ready to count out Yankees

NEW YORK -- General manager Brian Cashman isn't ready to count the Yankees out of a possible postseason berth just yet, but he's aware that numerous impediments this season have contributed to their position in the standings nearly halfway through September.

Before the end of the Yankees' nine-game homestand, he acknowledged to reporters that the team has made it tough on itself, and at this point, with many challengers all jockeying for the same Wild Card spot, the Yankees just need to focus on themselves and win games.

"The bottom line, to just keep it simple, is we've just got to win games," said Cashman. "We haven't done a good enough job here on the stretch drive as we needed to, to be in a better position, and that makes it that much harder. But we just have to own our games, period."

With the clock winding down, that also means less opportunity for recovering Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka to make a difference, even though the Yankees would like to have him back in the rotation before the season ends. The next test for him will be a simulated game with instructional league players in Tampa, Fla., on Monday.

"We're trying to finish off his rehab in a proper way, guided by the experts on the medical staff ... as well as clearly Tanaka's conversation about how he's feeling," said Cashman. "We're going to see if he'll be in a position to A, help us this year and B, be an expected player for us next year."

Of course, if time does run out, and Tanaka doesn't feel completely healthy before September ends, the Yankees will continue to rehab him after the season concludes until he feels like his former self. For the Yankees, that's a worst-case scenario.

"We're going to keep going past this season until we're in a position to really know the status of himself," said Cashman, who indicated Tanaka likely won't need another MRI. "Hopefully, he's at the back end, the finishing end of this, and we'll have another pitcher to utilize here as the season starts to run down."

Of course, Cashman admitted the biggest problem this season -- and one which he tried to conquer with several midseason acquisitions -- has been the struggling offense, and the disappointment that's come from his many large offseason expenditures.

"It's certainly [what] we didn't anticipate," said Cashman. "Certainly [something we] have tried to address in-season and we'll try to really analyze when the dust settles.

"That's tough, but we still have the ability to win games. ... We can control that."

Bombers bits
‪Martin Prado (left hamstring), Brett Gardner (abdominal) and Carlos Beltran (right elbow) were all out of the Yankees' lineup again for Thursday's game against the Rays.

‪Prado did some running before the game and could return to the lineup as early as Friday. Beltran said his elbow felt about the same as it did after Wednesday night's game and the Yankees won't determine his next course of action -- possibly surgery that would end his season -- for another few days. And although Gardner did not participate in any pregame activities, manager Joe Girardi is optimistic that he will return to the lineup this weekend in Baltimore.

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.