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Yanks after Canseco

George Steinbrenner calls a team meeting, reportedly to discuss acquiring the Devil Rays slugger.

The New York Yankees' latest slump has George Steinbrenner in a predictable mood and pursuing a predictable target.

Steinbrenner called a meeting Monday so he and his baseball people could discuss a trade for Jose Canseco, according to the Record of Hackensack, N.J., and it's possible the Devil Rays slugger could be traded by the end of the week.

General manager Brian Cashman was summoned to team headquarters in Tampa, where he spent most of the day with Steinbrenner. Executives including vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman and director of player development Rob Thompson held a lunch meeting, then retreated to the club's minor-league complex to talk further.

As with any such get-together called by Steinbrenner, the executives apparently went over a multitude of options that would help the team's struggling offense. But the potential acquisition of Canseco, currently in his second season with the Devil Rays, stood out as the top option, the paper said. Canseco's power and lively personality always have intrigued Steinbrenner.

Devil Rays officials don't comment on proposed trades.

Canseco, who turns 36 on July 2, is batting .260 with seven homers, 17 RBI, 44 strikeouts and 22 walks in 40 games. He has a history of health problems; last season, he played in 113 games because he needed midseason back surgery. But he also has a history of rebounding and performing well when he arrives on a new team.

Canseco would start at designated hitter, and the Yanks could shift Shane Spencer, with whom they are generally pleased, to leftfield. Ricky Ledee, whose struggles have captured Steinbrenner's attention, could be included in the package for Canseco, dealt elsewhere for pitching prospects or kept as a reserve.

The Yankees and Devil Rays have intensified discussions recently about Canseco, and Tampa Bay initially asked for No. 5 starter Ramiro Mendoza, the Record reported. Considering the lack of pitching depth in the Yankees organization, as well as manager Joe Torre's fondness for Mendoza, that is unlikely.

But the Devil Rays may be willing to settle for less. They probably will move to the National League next year, thus eliminating their need for a designated hitter.

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