Jorge Posada removes self from lineup
NEW YORK -- After being dropped to the No. 9 spot in the lineup, the struggling Jorge Posada went into manager Joe Girardi's office and asked out of Saturday's lineup.
"The conversation was really short," Girardi said. "He came into my office and said he needed a day, he couldn't DH today. That was basically the extent of the conversation."
After the game, Posada said that he was dealing with back stiffness and told Girardi that he needed a day to "clear his head."
"I told him I couldn't play today and that I needed time to, first to clear my head," Posada said after the Yankees' 6-0 loss to the Red Sox. "That was it. My back stiffened up a little bit. I was taking a lot of ground balls at first base and worked out and I wasn't 100 percent."
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However, Girardi said Posada never mentioned the back injury to him.
With speculation swirling, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with reporters in a workroom behind the press box during the third inning to give an update. The GM said Posada was not injured.
That irritated Posada.
"I don't know why he made a statement during the game. I don't understand that. That's the way he works now, I guess," Posada said. "I think we should have waited for the game to be over to talk to whoever. ... You don't do that. You're not supposed to do that."
When asked explicitly if he was mad at Cashman, Posada hedged, but said he wished the general manager had at least waited until after the game to discuss the matter.
"Well, we'll see. I think we should have waited for the game to be over to talk to whoever's doing the game. It's kind of like, you're not supposed to do that," Posada said.
Cashman, however, said Posada was aware he was going to address the media and even told the catcher and of one his agents, Seth Levinson, exactly what he was going to say.
"The situation that was created by him, then he would have to explain himself after," Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com via telephone. "It was as simple as that. It is common baseball practice to explain after someone is a late scratch in the lineup, they give a reason why."
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Cashman also said he discussed the situation with Posada and Levinson for an hour and attempted to convince Posada to play.
"In one instance I was on the phone with Seth and I actually had to hand the phone to Jorgie. I said, 'Here,'" Cashman said. "Jorgie knew exactly what was being said. This is not a surprise. I'm disappointed about what he said."
The Yankees believe that they have grounds to suspend Posada right away but will wait for more conversations about the situation to occur, a source told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.
The Yankees have not ruled out docking Posada's pay, especially if he refuses to play Sunday. The team was in contact with the commissioner's office as it considered its options Saturday night. But there was hope that a cooling-off period could settle the situation.
Posada admitted he feels "a little bit" disrespected by the team, but said he hopes to move forward.
"I hope we can move on and go on and play the season," Posada said.
If the Yankees do fine Posada one day's pay, that would be $71,978 on his $13.1 million salary. If a player declines to play two days in a row, he could be put on the restricted list.
"If he feels good tomorrow, and Joe Girardi has him in the lineup and he's batting ninth, he's playing," said one of Posada's agents, Sam Levinson. "Where he hits in the lineup is irrelevant. This is about his back, not about where he's hitting."
Girardi wouldn't comment on whether Posada might play in the series finale Sunday night.
"His struggles have been tough on him," said Girardi, ejected by plate umpire Mike Winters for arguing balls and strikes following Adrian Gonzalez's three-run homer off CC Sabathia in the seventh inning. "I hope for his sake we get through this and we can move forward."
Posada's wife, Laura, took to Twitter to defend her husband.
They're doing that guy wrong. They're doing him wrong. You know why? That guy, he is legendary right there in that organization. And dude, DH-ing sucks. DH-ing is not easy.” -- Red Sox DH David Ortiz
"Jorge loves being a Yankee [more than] anything," she tweeted. "He's trying his best to help his team win. Today, due to back stiffness he wasn't able to do that."
Posada said he needs to talk about his future with his wife. Posada, who entered Saturday hitting .165, said he has not thought about retirement.
There is a good chance Posada won't be in the lineup Sunday anyway, because the Red Sox are throwing lefty Jon Lester. Posada, a switch hitter, has yet to get a hit this year in 24 at-bats as right-handed hitter. On Monday, lefty David Price is scheduled to pitch for Tampa Bay.
Posada's plight even garnered attention -- and empathy -- in the visitor's clubhouse.
Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek was asked if he could appreciate the level of frustration Posada is feeling.
"We're dealing with a lot of speculation right now with the little bit I just heard,'' Varitek said. "I do know and respect what the man has done behind the plate for many, many years. Like I do with most things, I'm going to wait for the truth to come out and I'm not going to respond to something on hearsay.''
David Ortiz was more outspoken on the issue, saying the Yankees were doing a disservice to Posada by insisting that he serve as DH exclusively and no longer catch.
"They're doing that guy wrong. They're doing him wrong," Ortiz told reporters. "You know why? That guy, he is legendary right there in that organization. And dude, DH-ing sucks. DH-ing is not easy.''
Varitek, who at 39 is the same age as Posada, managed to make light of his own struggles at the plate. When he was asked if he thought Gonzalez had a chance to win the triple crown, leading the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average, Varitek feigned confusion.
"Who, me?'' he said. "What are you laughing at?"
Posada was on the bench for the beginning of Saturday's game, an hour after having gone into the manager's office, according to Cashman.
"At 6 o'clock he went into Joe's office and asked him to remove [him] from the DH spot and the ninth hole," Cashman said.
If Posada had stayed in the lineup, it would have been the first time he batted ninth in 12 years to the day. Against the White Sox on May 14, 1999, he went 0-for-4.
When the Yankees took away his catching gear this winter, Posada did not publicly complain. On Saturday, when he met with the media, he didn't make a scene.
"I've put myself in this spot," Posada said to the media before the game. "It is not like I want to hit ninth. It is not like I want to hit a hundred and whatever I'm hitting, just a matter of really coming out of it."
Girardi said he has mulled pushing Posada to the bottom of the order for a few days. Before posting the lineup, Girardi talked with Posada, telling him he is still in the lineup but must produce.
If he doesn't, the Yankees are facing a big decision. Earlier this week, a Yankee official told ESPN New York that the team doesn't know what they would do with Posada if he continues to fail to hit.
Posada doesn't play the field anymore and doesn't run well, so if he doesn't hit, he would seem to have no value on the roster.
"We're hoping he gets going and we don't have to cross that bridge," Girardi said.
Swisher, whom the Yankees have a $10.25 million team contract option for next season, is hitting .221 with two homers and 14 RBIs.
"If I need to be down there to help this team, I'm going to be there," Swisher said.
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley, ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes and The Associated Press was used in this report.