- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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If Yankee relievers were overused in the Joe Torre era, it wasn’t Brian Cashman's fault. At least, that’s what the Yankees GM said Thursday afternoon.
In an effort to defend himself against criticism that Yankees relievers were misused under Torre, Cashman insisted that he asked members of the bullpen to be honest with Torre about their ability to pitch “to protect their careers.”
Cashman was responding to recent criticism in which some labeled him a “hypocrite” after he stated that the Mets “abused” Yankees reliever Pedro Feliciano.
Feliciano, who is likely done for the season with a torn left shoulder capsule, led the league in appearances over the last three years, with 266.
“People ask, ‘Did we have players here [with] me as GM [that were] overused?' Yes," Cashman said.
He hinted that the fault lied with Torre for believing his relievers when they said they were OK to pitch. It also was the fault of the reliever for saying he was healthy enough to pitch when, in reality, he was not.
“You’ve got to understand these players are competitors, they’re never going to say no. That’s just the way they’re wired,” Cashman said.
But the Yankees GM said he “covered his bases” by telling relievers to be truthful with Torre and his staff when they were asked about their availability to pitch on a given day.
Many were critical of Torre for overusing late-inning relievers such as Scott Proctor and Ron Villone.
“I met with Proctor and said ‘You better stop telling the manager this because the way he manages … he wants an honest answer,'” said Cashman, who added “there was no hypocrisy here.”
Cashman later said he told Proctor, 'Dude you haven’t even made money yet, you’re hurting your career. While you’re helping us, you’re hurting your career. And he told me, 'I’m never gonna tell him no. If he needs me, I’m there for him.'”
Cashman said it was the manager’s responsibility to make the decision on whether or not to use the pitcher and hinted that Torre put too much stock in his player’s self-assessment.
“I’m not paying the pitcher to be the pitching coach, for instance, or the manager,” Cashman said. “We’re paying the manger to be the manager and I’m paying the pitching coach to be the pitching coach.”
Cashman said overuse was not an issue with Joe Girardi because “we have new people here that utilize people a certain way now.”
Cashman added: “You can’t put your assets in jeopardy. You can overuse them or you lose them.”
The issue arose after Cashman said that the Mets “abused” Feliciano.
Cashman was criticized in many corners because of the organization’s perceived misuse of relievers during the Torre era.
“I’m not attacking the Mets,” Cashman said. “….[Feliciano] was used extensively over there. I wasn’t blaming the Mets on what he was dealing with now.”
- with Mike Mazzeo