NEW YORK — Assistant coach Don Zimmer lashed out at New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner for saying it was up to Joe Torre to fix the struggling team.

"I got fed up reading all the things about our manager who has won four World Series in seven years," Zimmer said Wednesday. "That's a joke. Then again, he's the Boss."

Steinbrenner told newspapers earlier this week that he had given Torre everything he had asked for, so it was the manager's responsibility to make sure the team started playing better.

"For seven years here it was Tampa's team. That's all we heard. 'We'll pick the team, we'll pick the team,"' Zimmer said. "All of a sudden we're losing, and it's suddenly Joe's team? That's very unfair. I respect him. He's still the Boss. But that doesn't mean I can't say something."

Steinbrenner didn't comment as he arrived at Yankee Stadium just before Wednesday night's game against the Boston Red Sox.

While general manager Brian Cashman is based in New York, much of the Yankees' management team is located in Tampa, Fla., where the team trains each spring.

Gordon Blakely, the team's senior vice president for baseball operations, and many of the player personnel and minor league evaluators are based in Tampa.

There is often conflict between the two camps, sometimes stoked by Steinbrenner.

"I don't understand why there's a split," Zimmer said. "How many times this winter when there were stories about (Derek) Jeter or the coaches, and he made it a split between Tampa and New York. I think we all should be fighting for the same thing."

Torre declined to get involved in the controversy, which has percolated this week as Steinbrenner criticized the team for its recent poor play. "He's the Boss," Torre said. "He's within his rights to do whatever he wants." It's his ballclub. It's up to him to make the ground rules. We all live by them."

Steinbrenner singled out Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Jeff Weaver and hitting coach Rick Down this week.

Earlier this season, there was a dispute between the New York and Tampa factions over Cuban defector Jose Contreras.

Torre told the pitcher he would go to Triple-A Columbus to try to work out his problems but was overruled and Contreras was sent to Tampa to work with pitching guru Billy Connors before going to Columbus. Some people took that as a slight against pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.

"He's the big man. He can do what he wants. I thought it was unfair the way it was handled," Zimmer said. "If he questions me I'd say the same thing. I wasn't trying to start a war. I think I'm allowed to say something. We hear it all the time, 'The coaches this, the coaches that. The coaches this, the coaches that.' I'm tired of hearing it. He's entitled to do it. I'm entitled to say what I want to say, too."

The Yankees had lost five straight games and 12 of 15 before beating Boston on Tuesday night. New York had also lost eight straight home games before the series and trailed the Red Sox by 1 1/2 games in the AL East heading into Wednesday.

"We're struggling. We've been terrible for two weeks," Zimmer said. "All of a sudden it's Joe's team? For seven years it was Tampa's team."