<
>

Girardi has no plans to replace Posada

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jorge Posada started 2011 as the New York Yankees' designated hitter, and 30 games into the new season, that is not about to change.

So says Joe Girardi, who told Posada before Friday night's game against the Rangers to forget what has happened so far this season -- very little of it good -- and concentrate only on what the manager believes is still ahead for the 39-year-old former catcher.

"I told him throw those first 70 at-bats away,'' Girardi said. "It's what you do from here. Just have quality at-bats, continue to be productive, and don't worry about your average. I'm putting you in there every day, because I believe in you and I believe you're going to hit.''

The numbers have made it difficult to keep the faith in Posada, a career .274 hitter who is struggling through the worst start of his career. After taking an 0-for-3 in the Yankees' 4-1 victory, the average was down to .149, the string of futility against left-handed pitchers at 22 straight hitless at-bats.

Even his power stroke, the one part of his game that seemed not to desert him early -- six of Posada's first nine hits this season were home runs -- has dried up. He hasn't hit a homer since April 23.

And clearly, it is starting to wear on the proud veteran, who unburdened himself in atypical fashion before the media following the game.

"It's frustrating, it's really frustrating,'' he said. "I hit three balls hard [Thursday night], and nothing to show for it, and then another 0-for-3 tonight. It's really hard for me to look up and see what's going on.''

The frustration prompted Posada to knock on Girardi's office door before the game. "Thank you for sticking with me,'' Posada told the manager.

Girardi's response: "What are you talking about? You're my DH and you're going to stay my DH.''

The show of support eased Posada's worries, if not his burden. "If I was in his shoes, I might second guess,'' he admitted.

Girardi said he had no plans to replace Posada in the DH spot. "He probably swung the bat better than anyone on our team in Detroit (Posada went 4-for-16 with a double and two RBIs on the just-completed four-game trip),'' Girardi said. "And he didn't have a ton to show for it. But I'm not giving up on him. We just got to keep looking forward.''

That might not be easy for Posada, who says he believes his problems at the plate have nothing to do with the switch from catcher to DH. Still, he has no idea what is wrong.

"My approach is the same, I'm getting into good counts, and I have hit the ball hard, but right at people,'' he said. "I know I have to put the past aside and rely on the positives, but there's not a whole lot of positives right now.''