- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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Williams, who starred in center field for the Yankees from 1991 to 2006, winning four World Series championships and being named to five American League All-Star teams, believed he should have been given a guaranteed roster spot heading into spring training in 2007.
However, the Yankees saw Williams' skills had diminished and were willing only to extend him an invitation, with an opportunity to make the team if he had a good spring.
Ultimately, Williams, who felt disrespected given all he'd accomplished in New York, decided to retire, signaling an unfortunate ending to a stellar career in pinstripes.
Although Posada's tenure in the Bronx isn't over yet, it seems headed that way.
On May 14, manager Joe Girardi dropped Posada -- who was batting a paltry .165 at the time -- to ninth in the batting order for the first time in 12 seasons.
In retrospect, Posada should have accepted it, went out and played. Instead, he let his frustrations get the best of him and asked to be removed from the lineup.
Posada claimed it was because of a back injury, but general manager Brian Cashman told the media that wasn't the case.
Eventually, Posada offered an apology to Girardi, his teammates and the organization for his blowup, but Williams believes that both sides could have handled the matter differently.
"I'm not gonna come here and say that what Jorge did was right," Williams said. "But from the Yankees' standpoint, there are some things that are better handled in-house, and once you get the media involved and the fans involved, it becomes this huge thing that it didn't really have to be."
Like Posada, Williams was dropped to ninth in the batting order by his skipper, Joe Torre. It happened April 13, 2005, and it was the first time he'd been in the No. 9 hole since July 2, 1995.
Williams wasn't thrilled but handled the decision with class, prompting Torre to say:
"Bernie is unlike any player I have ever met. He never changes. I've been here 10 years now, and he's the same person, personality-wise and respect-wise. It's refreshing. You hurt for him because you know he's struggling and he has his pride and is taking a beating. But he keeps coming back, and that's what makes him special."
"I think going through a similar situation in my Yankee career, I think you have to stick with the mentality that you should think of yourself as a rookie and think that nothing is going to be given to you," Williams said. "It doesn't matter what you did 10 years ago, 20 years ago; it only matters what you do now, and that you prove to yourself and the team that you can do the job day in and day out.
"It's tough, because mentally you're always trying to trick yourself into thinking that you can always do it. But you want to have the support of the people around you and hope that they're thinking the same thing that you're thinking. But when that doesn't happen, it obviously becomes a very difficult situation.
"But the matter has been put to rest, Jorge is hitting the ball again and everything is back to normal."
Williams believes Posada and the Yankees will move on, and are better for having gone through the tumultuous situation.
"I think that both sides can learn from this experience," Williams said. "And hopefully if something happens in the future, they'll be able handle it a little bit better."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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