Hank Steinbrenner likes Yanks' chances

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees part-owner Hank Steinbrenner believes the Bombers are a lock to make the playoffs.

"Obviously, we're in the toughest division by far in baseball. So it's going to be a struggle down to the wire," Steinbrenner told reporters during a youth charity baseball event at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon. "We'd like to win the division, but I think we can be rest assured we're going to get the playoffs, then it's a matter of what we do from there."

The Yankees will wake up in Chicago on Friday morning tied with Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East and 5½ games ahead of the Red Sox in the wild-card race with 35 games left in the regular season. They have dealt with a shaky rotation that has been affected by an injury to Andy Pettitte and inconsistent performances from A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez.

"They'll be fine. That's the bottom line. You've got to deal with what you've got to deal with," Steinbrenner told the New York Post. "Look what the Red Sox are dealing with [many injuries]. It happens. You've just got to keep going."

Steinbrenner also said that the team will continue to operate with the same win-at-all-costs credo that was instituted by George Steinbrenner, Hank's father and the longtime Yankees principal owner who died of a heart attack in Tampa on July 13.

"It's not difficult for all of us getting back in the business of baseball because again we still just want to win every year if we can, no different than he did," Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Daily News. "Business as usual, as far as that goes."

Steinbrenner, who early on in his tenure as part-owner spoke freely with the same bombast and bluster of his father, hasn't been quoted as frequently this season.

Steinbrenner also said Thursday that he expects Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez to bounce back from their respective groin and calf injuries.

He added that he appreciated the outpouring of support from Yankees fans in the wake of his father's death.

"Obviously the fans have been great," Steinbrenner told the Daily News. "We got a lot of letters, condolence cards, sympathy cards from fans, probably more than anyone else."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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