Commentary

Posada finally coming around for Yanks

After struggling for most of the season, the veteran is starting to hit at the right time

Updated: June 11, 2011, 7:52 PM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada is alive.

Less than a month ago, it certainly didn't appear that way. In fact, he was almost as stiff and useless as the Posada figurine they gave away to fans who attended Yankee Stadium on Friday night.

If you're the everyday designated hitter and you aren't hitting, you're basically dead.

But that has all changed for Posada on this homestand. He's hitting again, contributing to a team that desperately needs his bat.

Posada had three hits in his first three at-bats. It gave him eight hits in his previous 10 at-bats. In the New York Yankees' 11-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians, Posada finished 3-for-5 with an RBI.

Posada's average is finally over .200, at .215 and climbing. He's really had better swings for a few weeks now, but now the hits are coming. "It's paying off now," said Posada, who collected his fourth straight multi-hit game. "I'm just waiting for the ball a little longer, hitting the ball to all fields and really seeing it better."

If you think Derek Jeter struggled out of the gate and had many wondering if he could turn it around, there was even more of a concern about Posada, in the last year of his contract.

He was batting about .160 for most of the season and failed to get a hit against a left-handed in his first 27 at-bats this season when the switch hitter batted right-handed.

Indeed, it wasn't a pretty picture.

Posada, though, had even tougher things to deal with recently. On Wednesday, Posada missed the game against the Boston Red Sox to be with his 11-year-old son, Jorge III.

Posada's son was born with craniosynostosis, a condition involving the bones of the skull.

Jorge III underwent his ninth surgery, his first since 2006. Posada hopes it's the last one. Posada told the media when he returned to the team Thursday that he believes the worst has passed. "He's tough," said Posada of his son, who went through a 4-hour procedure. "He's hanging in there, but there's a lot of pain. Obviously, he's upset. It's just tough right now."

Sometimes, you forget professional athletes are human, have families and the same woes we all face. No one knows how much things have weighed on Posada this season during all his struggles at the plate.

[+] EnlargeJorge Posada
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty ImagesJorge Posada has four consecutive multi-hit games.

But with this latest episode with his son now behind him, maybe, just maybe Posada can somewhat relax and concentrate on baseball just a little more than before.

"You want to keep on producing and help out your team and that's what I'm doing now," said Posada, who is batting .323 with five doubles and five RBIs in 20 games since May 8.

It's hard to want to bury such a player who is aging, but contributed so much in 17 seasons. Posada, Jeter and Mariano Rivera are all linked, having all been teammates since 1995 and winning multiple World Series championships together.

For sure, Posada has had a good, productive career for the Yankees for a long time. Still, you can't live in the past. The Yankees, in an all-out fight with the Red Sox for first place in the American League East, couldn't afford to carry Posada for the season. They needed production from his spot in the lineup.

"He's been swinging the bat well the last couple of weeks, which is extremely important,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's a big part of our lineup and we need output from him."

The designated spot hasn't exactly been a fruitful spot for the catcher turned DH. Coming into Friday night's game, Posada was batting just .208 in 134 career games as the DH. To adjust, Posada talked about clearing his head about a month ago. "Yeah, it's worked," he said. "I just look forward to the next at-bat and look forward to the next day. That's what I've been doing, not really worrying about what happened.''

Not everyone can get used to just hitting and not playing the field, especially if you were a catcher like Posada. He was so involved in the game, calling pitches. Now, he basically sits on the bench and comes to the plate as though he has four pinch-hitting appearances.

For sure, Posada, now 39, isn't going to return to the offensive force he was for many years. Bur the Yankees, if they still have their sights on first place and the postseason, are going to need some big hits out of the DH spot. This week has been a good sign that it's still possible.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

ALSO SEE

MORE MLB HEADLINES