Yankees owner George Steinbrenner met with his top advisers for five hours yesterday in Tampa to examine ways to improve the struggling team.

The session came one day after Steinbrenner issued a statement saying his "patience is a little short" and "the players have to want to win as much as I do."

New York GM Brian Cashman said the meeting focused on "ways to be better."

"That's the bottom line . . . as simple as that," Cashman said. "Obviously, we've under performed at this stage.

"We're looking to improve on what we've got. That's it. These meetings happen in the spring, in the midseason and the winter. We're always looking for solutions to try and be better every day."

Also on hand were general partners Steve Swindal and Hal Steinbrenner, senior executive Hank Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine and vice presidents Billy Connors, Bill Emslie, Mark Newman, Gordon Blakeley and Gene Michael.

George Steinbrenner left Legends Field without speaking to reporters about 90 minutes after the meeting ended at 7:20 p.m.

* PUNCH LINE: LHP Kenny Rogers avoided the disabled list and may miss only one start for the Rangers with the broken bone in his non-pitching hand.

Rogers has an AL-best 2.46 ERA and is 9-3 overall.

He missed his turn last night against Anaheim because of a small broken bone at the base of his right pinkie. He sustained the break in a fit of anger after coming out of his last home start, June 17 against Washington.

When the Rangers made a move to clear a roster spot for RHP Joaquin Benoit, they optioned C Gerald Laird to Class AAA Oklahoma rather than put Rogers on the disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter said Rogers could start this weekend in Seattle.

"That's what we're hoping," Showalter said. "Any of those three days, depending on how he progresses. . . . We thought he may be able to make his next start."

* OLIVO BACK IN SEATTLE: The Mariners recalled C Miguel Olivo , their Opening Day starter, from Class AAA Tacoma and optioned C Rene Rivera to Class AA San Antonio.

* SCHILLING STARTS REHAB: Red Sox RHP Curt Schilling will begin a rehabilitation assignment tonight for Class AAA Pawtucket against host Charlotte.

Schilling, out since late April with a right ankle injury, is expected to make at least two starts for Pawtucket. He could be activated from the disabled list after that and could start in Baltimore the weekend before the all-star break.

"The idea is to get him back healthy so he can compete and win," Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said. "We're going to watch everything he does."

-- From News Services

Rangers' Kenny Rogers broke a bone in his non-pitching hand after punching a cooler.