Sitting at his familiar locker in the back corner of the Yankees clubhouse, Jorge Posada seemed to be at ease with his new role. He did not appear agitated or frustrated (and Posada has rarely been one to hide his agitation or frustration).
“I think knowing before spring training started that you’re going to be a DH, I think that helped me a little bit,” he said. “That mentality has changed for me a little bit.”
When he got the news this winter, Posada didn’t want to hear it. In the months since, Posada’s feelings seem to have settled. I’m sure there’s still a part of him that wants to catch everything — and thinks he could catch every day — but at 39 years old, Posada recognizes several truths: It’s been three years since he had 400 at-bats, he’s entering the last year of his contract, and the Yankees have plenty of young catchers on the verge.
“I don’t know (what happens after this season),” he said. “A lot has to do with this year. How I feel this year, how I come out after this season. I would like to stay healthy. I think DHing will help me. After the season, see how my body responded the whole year and how I feel after the season and make the decision then. I’m happy with everything that’s gone on.”
Posada has reached out to Edgar Martinez for advice but hasn’t been able to reach him. He said he’ll try to find a routine this summer — Joe Girardi suggested occasional catching drills in the cage during the game — and he’ll pick the brain of any veteran DH the Yankees play against along the way.
As for the physical and mental toll of catching 130-plus games season after season?
“I wouldn’t have done it any other way,” Posada said.
Here’s audio from Posada. That weird sound at the beginning is Posada taping a bat.
• Assuming he does come back for another season, Posada said he can’t imagine playing for any other team. “I really can’t,” he said. “After the year it will be really tough to look somewhere else. We’ll see. If I want to play, I would like to stay here.”
• Joe Girardi indicated that he’d like to give Posada a few spring games at catcher, but that’s not a sure thing. “I think anyone would like to have reps if the possibility is going to occur during he course of the season,” Girardi said. “We’ll just see how he’s doing and make some judgment calls as we go.” Clearly Girardi wants Posada to get most of his spring at-bats as a DH so he can adjust to the role.
• Speaking of the catcher position, Girardi and Brian Cashman were both encouraged by what they saw out of Jesus Montero in the bullpen today. “I think he sits more comfortable,” Girardi said. “I think his hands work better. He’s in outstanding shape. We’ll see as spring training goes along, we’ll get a chance to see him do everything, but he just looks more comfortable (than last spring).”
• Larry Rothschild spoke quite a bit about A.J. Burnett this afternoon — more on that later — but he also touched on Joba Chamberlain. “Really, for him, it’s getting the ball downhill, creating the angle so it’s not flattening out going up to the plate,” Rothschild said. “I think that will help the slider. Pretty much, I think it’s that simple.”
• Most of the guys who threw bullpens today were around 25 pitches, all fastballs.
• Although the Yankees still want to take things slowly with Russell Martin, Cashman said the Yankees are not really worried about him. There’s just some stiffness in his surgically repaired knee. Nothing major, just enough for the Yankees to move with caution.
• Brett Gardner was in camp today. He said he’s allowed to be here ahead of the other position players because he’s doing rehab work. The wrist, though, feels good. He’s been able to throw and hit with no problems. “I’m ready to roll,” he said. “I feel good, man.”
• By the way, Gardner had a series of trips planned for this winter, but had to cancel all of them because of the wrist injury. I told him I went skiing this winter. Gardner said he went once in high school but won’t go again until he’s finished playing. The reason? He broke his wrist that day.
• Spent a little bit of time talking to Rule 5 pick Robert Fish today. He said this is his first big league camp — he was never in big league camp with the Angels — and he was surprised at just how hard the Yankees worked on Day 1. This was no light day.
• Speaking of the Rule 5 picks, Fish and Daniel Turpen are pretty big guys, but the biggest new guy in camp is easily Andy Sisco. He looks a little bit like Shelley Duncan, but even bigger. If he decided to attack Manny Banuelos, poor Manny would never have a chance.
Associated Press photos of Posada with Francisco Cervelli; Mark Prior crouched after sprints; and Martin going through catching drills