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Girardi holds closed-door meeting

Girardi holds closed-door meeting

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Girardi held the first closed-door meeting of his Yankees managerial tenure on Wednesday, addressing his team for about 30 minutes before the club's game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

New York has lost the first two games against Tampa Bay and has managed just two runs in its last 24 innings, dating back to Saturday's game at Detroit. New York entered play Wednesday two games below .500 at 19-21, an underwhelming start that prompted critical commentary from co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner.

"It had nothing to do with Hank's comments," Girardi said. "It had to do with my own heart. I wanted to have a talk with the club."

Girardi said that he would reveal few details about the meeting, except to confirm that there was one, but dropped a hint toward the tone of the meeting when he said, "This club expects to win every day, and it's not happening, and it's bothering us."

The Yankees have been operating without the services of defending American League MVP Alex Rodriguez and catcher Jorge Posada, which has hurt the stability of their lineup. Girardi has tried to mix and match as best possible, constructing 36 different lineups already this season -- leading the American League.

"We're a better club than 19-21, there's no doubt about it," Girardi said. "If I felt we were a 19-21 club, I would tell you. We're a much better club than that. None of us in this room are content with the results. I don't like being 19-21. I expected us to be a lot better, and we'll find a way."

Girardi's 36th lineup was formed on Wednesday, when he moved Bobby Abreu up to the second spot in the batting order, dropping Derek Jeter to third. The Rangers had been the only other AL club to shuffle as much as the Yankees, entering play Wednesday with 35 lineups.

"We have to score some runs and we have to produce," Abreu said. "I think they're shaking up the lineup. It could be to find a way to do it, and then everything is going to be back to normal. I don't mind."

The Yankees' record is a slight improvement over last season, when they started 18-22 through their first 40 games. On May 28, former manager Joe Torre closed the clubhouse doors for a team meeting in Toronto, delivering a scorching address that left one veteran "embarrassed," but also motivated by the dressing-down.

Results didn't come immediately, but the Yankees went 16-11 in June and then 19-9 in July on their way to winning 94 games and the American League Wild Card, keeping alive their streak of postseason appearances. Girardi sees some of those same hallmarks in his current roster.

"This is a club that has a lot of potential," Girardi said. "The bottom line is, you have to pitch when you have to pitch. The bullpen has to do its job and you have to score runs. Everyone has to do his job in every game to win."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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