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 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -Don Zimmer isn't ready to give Boston the American League East Division title - at least not yet.
``I would say it's early to say that, but things better start happening awful quick because the Red Sox got an outstanding pitching staff and they've got a good team,'' the Tampa Bay Devil Rays senior adviser and former Yankees bench coach said Tuesday. ``I would say at this time, it's going to be very tough for anybody, not just the Yankees, to catch the Red Sox.''
The Yankees started Tuesday tied for last in the AL East with the Devil Rays, 13 1/2 games behind Boston. Second-place Baltimore was 11 1/2 games off the pace.
Zimmer, who has spent 59 years in baseball, was Yankees manager Joe Torre's bench coach when New York won four World Series championships. He also managed Boston in 1978 when the Red Sox held a large lead in August before losing a one-game playoff to the Yankees for the AL East title.
``Joe Torre right now is going through a stretch that I don't think he's ever had to face,'' Zimmer said. ``With the pitching staff, the way it's happened. They're waiting for (Roger) Clemens at 44 years old, you don't know how that's going to turn out. One thing about Joe, Joe knows how to handle situations.''
Zimmer believes Torre will not get too up or down as the Yankees try to move up in the playoff race.
``Joe's not going to get excited one way or another,'' Zimmer said. ``Whether they can put something together, there's a lot of teams that will have to put something together to catch the Red Sox. Joe Torre is not going to do anything different than he's done in the past 12 years. We'll just wait and see how it ends up.''
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