Commentary

Girardi: Yanks have catching rotation

Says Posada gets Sabathia, Pettitte and Hughes; Cervelli gets Burnett, Vazquez

Updated: August 7, 2010, 6:04 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- In addition to 27 World Series titles, 40 American League pennants, a $1.5 billion stadium and a $200 million payroll, it turns out the Yankees have something else no other team in baseball has.

Two rotations. One for their pitchers and another for their catchers.

Before Saturday's game against the Red Sox, manager Joe Girardi confirmed what many have suspected all along -- that there is one catcher when three of his starting pitchers go, and another catcher for the remaining two.

[+] EnlargeFrancisco Cervelli
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIFrancisco Cervelli's dropped pop up Friday night helped lift the Red Sox to victory.

This explains why Jorge Posada was not in the lineup for Friday night's series opener, a 6-3 loss to the Red Sox that was essentially decided when a routine pop fly was botched on the infield grass by Francisco Cervelli and Javier Vazquez, setting up three unearned Boston runs.

Posada, who has been troubled recently by soreness caused by a cyst behind his left knee, came to Yankee Stadium feeling fit and ready to play Friday. To his surprise, he soon learned he was not playing; Cervelli was.

"I came ready to play, and I thought I was going to be in there," Posada said. "Then after looking at the lineup, I saw I wasn't in there. I didn't know the decision. But for some reason, I wasn't in there."

Asked to explain the thought process that led him to scratch Posada without consulting his 38-year-old catcher to gauge his fitness, Girardi said, "We've had a rotation here and it's been successful and it's pretty much what I'm going to stick to. Will it change from time to time? Possibly. But [Cervelli's] caught Javy and A.J. [Burnett] mostly, and I've stuck to that rotation because it's been successful."

Pressed to acknowledge that Cervelli would also catch Sunday night's game, with Burnett scheduled to start, Girardi said, "That's something I'll have to look at. But let me make tomorrow's lineup tomorrow and today's lineup today."

Posada said he was aware of the arrangement.

"I really can't be opposed to what's going on," he said. "Cervy and Javy are having a good thing going, so you hate to break up that thing. When things are going right, [Girardi's] going to keep everything the same."

It was a miscommunication between pitcher and catcher that led to Boston's three-run second inning, which turned out to be the difference in the Friday night game that allowed the Red Sox to draw to within five games of the American League East-leading Yankees.

"It's Javy's ball," Posada said. "He called it at the last minute and tried to catch it. It was just confusion."

There is no confusion that when Cervelli replaces Posada in the lineup, the Yankees lose a significant portion of their offense. Posada, one of the best-hitting catchers in the history of baseball and one of just a handful with more than 250 career home runs, is hitting .261 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs in 249 at-bats; Cervelli is hitting .255 with zero homers and 31 RBIs in 208 at-bats. He has one career home run.

Still, Girardi has seemingly placed the comfort level of two of his starting pitchers, the erratic Burnett and the inconsistent Vazquez, ahead of the strength of his lineup.

With the trade-deadline addition of Lance Berkman as a full-time DH, it looks as if Posada's playing time will be limited to the three days per week on which CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte, currently on the disabled list with a groin injury, are starting. With Sabathia going Saturday, Posada was catching and hitting fifth in a lineup that had to be reshuffled at the last moment due to a pregame injury suffered by Alex Rodriguez.

Posada, who has spent 15 days on the DL after suffering a broken foot May 19 and has missed several games when his knee problem flares up, said it was possible that the cyst would be drained or surgically removed after the season.

But since missing three games in Cleveland last week, he said he has been pain-free.

"The treatment has been working," he said. "I was fine, I could have played [Friday], and with the day off, I felt good, I was ready to play. But that's baseball. I'll just get ready to play today."

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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