Once a staple of life on the Yankees beat, in-person interviews with Steinbrenner have become a rarity in recent years, with Steinbrenner preferring instead to release statements through his publicist, Howard Rubenstein. Steinbrenner has also cut back on his public appearances.
At Yankee Stadium before Friday's game against the American League West-leading Angels, Cashman said that he accepted responsibility for the club's poor start. Though he stated that he has confidence in the personnel in place, Cashman also said that it was his task to get the team back on the path of winning baseball.
"For better or for worse, that my job," Cashman said. "It's my job to figure it out and get it going in the right direction, like he deserves it to be. I'm not going to run from that."
Cashman said that Steinbrenner has privately made statements similar to those made on Friday, and that though Steinbrenner is laying relatively low publicly, he continues to speak with the general manager an average of three to four times daily.
Cashman noted that Steinbrenner is entitled to make statements of that ilk publicly because, well, he's The Boss.
"I'm frustrated by the results thus far, but no one's clearly going to be more frustrated than him, because he's the one writing the checks for it," Cashman said.
Cashman does not regret asking for sole authority over the baseball operations department, authority he requested after coming to the conclusion that there was a splintering of the executive structure and that too many voices were interfering with the pursuit of the goal of winning baseball.
"When things go wrong, people need to know who to come to," Cashman said. "That's the way it needs to be. In fairness to [Steinbrenner], at least he knows now who he needs to talk to about it. You hire somebody to do a job, and then when things go bad, you shouldn't have all these hands in the pot. It's got to be a streamlined situation, like it is elsewhere."
Steinbrenner told the AP that he was encouraged by the Yankees' performance this week against the Boston Red Sox, after the club took two of three games at Yankee Stadium.
Manager Joe Torre said that he feels equal responsibility with Cashman for the team's slow start, and said that Steinbrenner has never swayed much from the public persona that made him one of New York's most boisterous and influential sports figures. If someone asks Steinbrenner's opinion, Torre said, he will give it.
"He's the owner, and he certainly needs to be listened to when he wants to say something," Torre said. "The only thing I know is that both Brian and I are trying to improve this thing so he'd be proud of both of us. It's our job; we can't really react one way or the other."
The Yankees enter Friday's action 9 1/2 games back in the division, and could soon have a boost from 44-year-old Roger Clemens, who threw a bullpen session on Friday in Houston and is scheduled to pitch a third and possibly final Minor League tuneup start on Monday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Among the other topics addressed by Steinbrenner:
Clemens' return: Steinbrenner joined a contingent of Yankees executives in the opinion that Clemens could benefit from one more start in the Minor Leagues to harness his stuff, following up on his 102-pitch performance Wednesday for Double-A Trenton. Steinbrenner said that he feels Clemens will eventually bring the Yankees a "winning attitude."
"I think Roger is capable of sparking the team," Steinbrenner said. "He is a veteran and will bring stability. I am happy he is coming back. I love him."
Yankees managers: Steinbrenner said that the Yankees are "not considering a change" at the managerial post, offering a vote of confidence to Torre, who has skippered the club since 1996.
Torre continues to accept the responsibility that comes with that job title.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm the manager, and Cash is the one I report to," he said. "We work close together, so as far as anything that's aimed at him, I certainly feel that it's my responsibility, too, because we put this club together, and I'm the manager."
Steinbrenner said that he was impressed with bench coach Don Mattingly, who "could possibly" become the Yankees' manager someday. Mattingly has expressed an interest in managing in the future, and filled in for one game this season while Torre served a suspension -- a loss to Seattle on May 7.
"Mattingly is a good one," Steinbrenner said. "He is a very thorough guy. He understands what it is to be a Yankee."
Jason Giambi: Steinbrenner made it clear that he was not pleased with the comments made by Giambi to a USA Today reporter last week in Chicago, when the slugger said he was wrong for having done "that stuff" -- alluding to his past use of performance-enhancing drugs -- and suggested that Major League Baseball owed its fans an apology for the sport's steroid use.
"He should have kept his mouth shut," Steinbrenner said. "The matter is in the hands of the baseball Commissioner."
Giambi's cause was not helped by this week's revelation in the New York Daily News that he'd failed a test for amphetamines within the last 12 months. Giambi was summoned to meet with MLB officials at the Park Avenue offices to address those comments.
Virginia Tech massacre: Steinbrenner said that he was deeply moved by the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech, and was prompted the make a $1 million contribution to the school's "Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund" to assist the families of victims. The Yankees wore caps with the school's logo for Wednesday's game against the Red Sox, with the logos also adorning both baselines at Yankee Stadium.
"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."
Steinbrenner, who also complimented Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte in the AP interview, is in the middle of his 35th year as the principal owner of the Yankees, having purchased the club from CBS in January 1973.
Under his leadership, the Yankees have won 10 American League pennants and six World Series titles.