Derek Jeter, Yanks talk about Posada

Updated: May 18, 2011, 3:22 AM ET
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

Jorge Posada's decision to take himself out of the lineup turned into a major media conflagration over the weekend, but it appears that the New York Yankees have quickly worked through a brushfire with Derek Jeter.

Club officials were unhappy with Jeter's comments about Posada on Sunday, feeling that he essentially condoned his longtime teammate's actions with what he said to reporters. But on Monday, the Yankees held an internal conference call regarding the matter with Jeter, team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner. Jeter said that all sides were on the same page.

No one would say how long they were on, nor what was discussed, nor even who initiated the call.

But, as Jeter repeated no less than eight times in a four-minute interview at his locker before Monday night's Yankees-Rays game, "We are all on the same page.

"If I tell you we talked for 20 minutes, you're going to try to find out what we talked about for 20 minutes. If I tell you we talked for 30 seconds, you're going to say it was too short. So I got nothing for you."

Posada, a catcher-turned-fulltime DH, is struggling at the plate -- he's hitting .165 and remains hitless against left-handed pitching. He was dropped to the ninth spot in the batting order for Saturday's game and asked out of the lineup because he felt disrespected.

Jeter is close friends with Posada and described him on Sunday as someone he regards as a brother. He repeatedly deflected questions Sunday about Posada's actions and said there was no reason for him to apologize to teammates, after declining to play on Saturday. The team's front office was so angry with what Posada did that they considered releasing the veteran immediately.

Jeter had a very different take.

"If I thought he did something wrong, I'd be the first to tell him," Jeter said in the midst of a long session with reporters.

Posada did not talk to reporters before Monday's game.

He was not in the starting lineup, a move Girardi said was because the Rays started David Price, a left-hander.

"Jorgie's going through a rough period,'' Girardi said before the Yanks lost 6-5. "When a guy's had as much success as him, you expect success every year. I'm not saying that he's not going to have it, that he's not going to turn it around, but it's been a struggle for him. None of us want to see him struggle.''

Asked if Posada would start Tuesday against right-hander James Shields, Girardi said, "We'll talk about tomorrow, tomorrow.''

"When you're hitting [.165], you're lucky to be in the lineup," Hank Steinbrenner told The Associated Press of Posada. "He'll come back, I'll guarantee that."

The rift between the Yankees and Posada also existed in spring training. Team sources told ESPN that Posada refused to catch during a spring training game as he was worried about the concussion he suffered behind the plate late in the 2010 season.

Posada, however, refuted that this occurred in comments made to the New York Daily News, which first reported the incident.

"Not at all. Not once. A hundred percent," he told the newspaper. "Not even close. They told me to go to the bullpen and stuff so I caught in the bullpen every once in a while, but they never asked me [to catch in a game]."

Meanwhile, Jeter did not want to talk about anything that happened Monday.

"I told you [Sunday] I was going to talk about it once and that was going to be it,'' Jeter said. "I learned a long time ago the longer you talk about things the longer they last. So this is over with. It's a non-issue.''

Girardi said he thought the mini-controversy might actually be a plus for his team, which entering Monday had lost five in a row and eight of its last 10 and fell into second-place in the AL East, 1½ games behind the Rays, after being swept at home over the weekend by the Red Sox.

"You know, it might be the best time for this to happen,'' Girardi said. "It might be what brings this club even closer. This is a close-knit group of guys but this might be what pulls us even closer and maybe gets the focus off one of the guy's recent struggles and gets this club going. You go through eight-and-a-half months together, there are things that are going to happen. Some of them become public, some of the don't but this is a great group of guys and we'll get this righted."

"It's early, but the team needs to get it together," Steinbrenner told AP. "We've got too much talent to be swept by anybody at Yankee Stadium, even if we're playing the '27 Yankees. It's not acceptable. We need to start doing what I know we can do."

Senior writer Buster Olney covers baseball for ESPN The Magazine. ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine

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