NEW YORK (AP) -With his New York Yankees struggling, George Steinbrenner says Joe Torre is safe for now, general manager Brian Cashman ``is on a big hook'' and Jason Giambi ``should have kept his mouth shut.''
In a rare interview Thursday night from his office in Tampa, Fla., the Boss praised Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter and said he was encouraged by the Yankees' performance this week in taking two out of three games from AL East-leading Boston.
Cashman, given increased duties when he re-signed after the 2005 season, is apparently being held largely responsible for the team's play.
``He's on a big hook,'' a spirited Steinbrenner said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ``He wanted sole authority. He got it. Now he's got to deliver.''
New York entered Friday 21-24 and trailed the Red Sox by 9 1/2 games.
``We hope we have turned it around,'' Steinbrenner said emphatically. ``We just have to get out there and compete, compete hard, and win.''
Torre, Steinbrenner's manager since 1996, appears to be safe for now.
``We are not considering a change,'' Steinbrenner said.
Steinbrenner was less generous toward Giambi, whose recent comments to USA Today that he was ``wrong for doing that stuff'' were interpreted by some as an admission of steroid use. Giambi told a federal grand jury that he used steroids from 2001-3 and human growth hormone in 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Giambi was called into the commissioner's office Wednesday to discuss his remarks.
``He should have kept his mouth shut,'' Steinbrenner said. ``The matter is in the hands of the baseball commissioner.''
Commissioner Bud Selig likely will decide within two weeks whether to discipline Giambi.
On another topic, Steinbrenner said he was impressed with Torre's bench coach, ex-Yankees great Don Mattingly, and that he ``could possibly'' become manager someday.
``Mattingly is a good one,'' Steinbrenner said. ``He is very thorough guy. He understands what it is to be a Yankee.''
Steinbrenner is counting on Clemens to be a part of a Yankees' comeback. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $28 million, one-year contract with the Yankees on May 6 and will rejoin the team next week or the week after. Steinbrenner says the 44-year-old right-hander brings ``a winning attitude.''
``I think Roger is capable of sparking the team,'' he said. ``He is a veteran and will bring stability. I am happy he is coming back. I love him.''
Steinbrenner felt the Rocket needed at least one more minor league start to sharpen his stuff, and Clemens likely will pitch in a Triple-A game next week. That could put the seven-time Cy Young Award winner on track to return to the majors in Fenway Park next weekend against his old original team.
The owner also lavished praise on Pettitte, who left the Yankees after the 2003 season and pitched alongside Clemens in Houston before rejoining the Yankees this season.
``He's a real gutsy guy,'' Steinbrenner said. ``We are happy he is back with us.''
Steinbrenner also is pleased with Jeter, who this week passed Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio and moved into fifth place on the Yankees' career hits list.
``Jeter is a real Yankee,'' he said.
Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973 and has presided over six world championships and 10 pennants while building the Yankees franchise into the most lucrative in sports.
He has been know to make generous donations through the team, most recently to Virginia Tech in the aftermath of last month's tragedy.
The Yankees contributed $1 million to the school's ``Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund'' to assist the victims' families, and honored the victims before the Red Sox game on Wednesday night. Virginia Tech's president threw out the first pitch and the Yankees wore VT logos on their caps.
``I feel very strongly about the young people,'' Steinbrenner said. ``I feel so strongly about the teachers and the school, all the people affected by this. We wanted to help in the healing process.''

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