Notes: Torre says offense is bigger need

Notes: Torre says offense is bigger need

CLEVELAND -- With the trade deadline less than four weeks away, Joe Torre knows that a move or two could be made to bolster the Yankees for the second half.

Most people believe New York would benefit most from an additional starting pitcher, but don't count the manager among them. Torre feels another outfielder would help his team more, as the offense has had trouble finding consistency over the past few weeks.

"Offense has been a problem for us," Torre said. "In terms of thinking about something we need now, I'd say more on the offensive end."

The Yankees were 6-for-60 with runners in scoring position over a seven-game span last week, as they continue to look for ways to replace Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui.

While names such as Alfonso Soriano, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell keep getting floated around, the Yankees may be looking at lower-tier players such as Jacque Jones, David Dellucci or Reggie Sanders.

"It doesn't have to be a knocker; just somebody who is going to help our offense overall," Torre said. "I don't know who that person is. There is a list of players that we've talked about, but then it comes down to what they want for this guy or that guy. A lot of it hasn't make sense, because they try to hold you up when they know it's you and they know that you need somebody."

General manager Brian Cashman said earlier this week that he would like to hold on to Philip Hughes, the organization's top pitching prospect. Torre echoed that sentiment Tuesday.

"I like him, [but] it's a decision that the organization has to make," Torre said. "Say you're going to give a player of that ability up, you certainly want a player back that you're not just renting for the rest of the year. You want somebody who is going to be here and help you down the road."

Right for Reese: Kevin Reese made his second start of the season Tuesday, his first in right field.

With Bernie Williams mired in a 3-for-24 skid at the plate, Torre decided to give Reese a shot in the lineup. Reese is 4-for-9 (.444) this season in limited playing time.

"I know we've only seen a couple of at-bats, but he seems to be swinging all right," Torre said. "We'll give it a shot. Bernie looked like he was dragging the bat a little last night. We sometimes get into this thing where you just write his name down and don't think much about it."

Bubba Crosby has had just 20 at-bats since being reinstated from the disabled list June 15, collecting only three hits in that time. Crosby remains on the bench for the Yankees, and Torre seems content to save him for pinch-running and late-inning defensive purposes.

Birthday wishes: George Steinbrenner turned 76 on Tuesday, so Torre placed a call to send his best wishes to the Yankees' owner.

Torre said that the call was "strictly social," and that the conversation didn't last very long. Although the two men didn't speak during the last homestand, Torre said that Steinbrenner has been "very supportive" of the team, even through some of the recent tough times.

"He said to me today, 'How are you doing?' and I said, 'I'd be better if we won last night,'" Torre said. "He said, 'You'll be all right.' It was a little bit of a cheerleading thing."

Dandy Andy: Andy Phillips entered Tuesday's game hitless in his last 13 at-bats, but Torre still likes what he has seen from his first baseman.

Phillips was 10-for-30 on the homestand, starting eight of the nine games at first base.

"Phillips is having some good at-bats," Torre said. "He's becoming a regular player here, which is something you didn't envision at the start of the season. You don't even hesitate now; you put him in the middle of the lineup and expect him to carry part of the load."

Perfect start: Matt Smith has not allowed a run in his first 12 big-league appearances, posting a 0.00 ERA while holding opponents to a .105 average in 12 innings. Smith has allowed four hits and walked eight, but Torre said he wasn't concerned about the high walk total.

"He's not pitching enough for me to blame him for numbers," Torre said. "He's not going to walk people; if you look at how and when we've used him, it's been so sporadic, it's difficult for an inexperienced pitcher to have that kind of polish."

Coming up: The Yankees and Indians meet for the third game of their four-game series Wednesday, as Mike Mussina (9-3, 3.17 ERA) takes on Paul Byrd (6-5, 4.10 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.