"We've got to start hitting," Steinbrenner told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "It's getting ridiculous. They've got to start waking up. They've shown in flashes what they can still do."
New York's offense went quiet after posting a 9-0 win over the Mets on Friday in the second game of a two-ballpark Subway Series doubleheader. The Yankees have scored just seven runs in four games since, losing three of four.
"He's right," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "The offense has underperformed, and we've got to figure it out. The strength of this team, more than anything, is supposed to be the offense. It's a weakness for us right now, and we've got to fight our way through it and get guys going in the right direction. It's as simple as that."
Steinbrenner's comments were met with a certain level of expectation inside Yankees' clubhouse.
"We do need to start hitting, I will say that," manager Joe Girardi said. "We've scored seven runs in the last four days, and that's not going to get it done. You have to find a way to score more runs."
Johnny Damon spoke openly about the club's offensive struggles after New York's 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday, comments that were generally echoed in Steinbrenner's statements.
"It's OK he comes out and says it, because we know," Damon said. "There's no secret about the struggles of this team. It's falling on the hitters. This team is put together as an offensive machine and we're not showing how good we are. There's signs, but this team on a bad day should be able to score three or four runs."
The Yankees led the Major Leagues with 968 runs scored last season, but have managed to score just 388 runs in 84 games this year. Their average of 4.62 runs per game places them seventh in the American League and ninth in the Major Leagues entering play on Wednesday.
"We're better than this and we need to show that on the field," Cashman said. "Our guys are grinding to put their work in. The results are just going to have to follow, sooner than later, for us to be where we want to be. We're not getting young in this season, so we need to start yesterday."
The offensive dropoff has come as a surprise, Girardi said.
"When we left Spring Training, we felt really good about our offense," Girardi said. "We've had to deal with some people being out of the lineup from time to time, but I still believe we had enough to score more runs than we've scored.
"[Designated hitter] Hideki [Matsui] is out now and he's an important part, but there's still a lot of important hitters. You're shocked when they go through a stretch like this."
Steinbrenner told the AP that the inconsistent offense has also been an area of concern for Cashman.
"Even when I was worried about the pitching earlier -- starting pitching is the most important thing of all -- but Brian would keep telling me, 'Yes, but I'm worried about the hitting,'" Steinbrenner said. "That was Brian's biggest concern, even as we were reconstructing the pitching. We all know they're better than that.
"I don't know. Maybe a little less outside distractions and a little more concentrating and they'll start hitting better. I thought they would go on a consistent tear, and it hasn't happened yet."
Girardi said that he was not aware of any outside distractions that should be of concern.
"I believe our guys are focused when they get here," Girardi said. "Obviously, people have families and they have things that they have to do. I don't follow everyone around and ask them what they're doing every hour of the day. Every ballplayer has to be able, when they come to work, to be focused on what they have to do."
Said Damon: "We go out and play and swing the bats. I think the problems are on the field. Nothing that happens off the field is a concern for us."
Having completed Interleague play for the most part -- they'll play a makeup at Pittsburgh on July 10 to officially bid farewell to the National League for 2008 -- the Yankees are in a stretch of their schedule that could prove pivotal.
After attempting to salvage the finale of a three-game series on Wednesday against the Rangers, the Yankees will host the Red Sox for a four-game series and then welcome in the division-leading Rays for a two-game set before traveling to Toronto for their final series before the All-Star Game.
"I think we all know what we have to do," Damon said. "There's no hiding behind it. I think everyone in the world knows that our offense is struggling."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less