Girardi replaced Posada with Jose Molina before the ninth inning of New York's 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Friday. Posada wanted to stay in the game but Girardi is hoping to avoid a repeat of last year, when one of the key cogs in the Yankees lineup played in just 51 games because of his ailing shoulder.
"Because of what he's been through and what he's had to do, part of it is protecting him late in the game -- trying to rush and maybe not as strong you're going to be in a month," Girardi said Saturday. "As I've said, the prize is at the end of the year, not the first month, and we've got to keep him the whole year."
Posada is batting .243 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 10 games this season. He also has cut down two of eight runners attempting to steal, including a strong throw to get speedy Grady Sizemore at second in Thursday's 10-2 loss to Cleveland.
Girardi talked with Posada before the season started about pulling him from some games early in the year, and both are hoping it's a temporary arrangement.
"You want to be out there," Posada said. "It is what it is."
Posada was back in the starting lineup Saturday but Girardi moved him to first base with the Indians leading 20-2 in the sixth inning. Hideki Matsui started the game on the bench but hit for Johnny Damon in the fifth and stayed in as the designated hitter.
Matsui, who doubled, walked and was hit by a pitch in three plate appearances, has been bothered by fluid in his surgically repaired left knee.
"It's better," Girardi said before New York's 22-4 loss. "As I've said all along we've got to get him going and I've got to make sure he's 100 percent."
Matsui had surgery on the knee Sept. 22, and the Yankees don't expect him to play the outfield until June.
New York's thin bench got even smaller when the club optioned first baseman Juan Miranda to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled right-hander Anthony Claggett before Saturday's game. The move gave the Yankees 13 pitchers on their 25-man roster. Miranda was just promoted on Friday.
Claggett replaced slumping starter Chien-Ming Wang in the second and was charged with eight runs and nine hits over 1 2-3 innings in his major league debut.
"Well it's great to be here, no doubt about it," Claggett said. "But I feel like I kind of let the team down."