Saturday, August 13, 2011
Posada proves bat still packs punch
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
Jorge Posada went 3-for-5 with six RBI on Saturday in his first start since being benched on Aug. 6.
Jorge Posada's pride - - the same pride that was hurt deeply earlier this month when he was taken out of the everyday lineup - - was on full display Saturday.
In his first start since being removed from the full-time DH role on Aug. 6, Posada went 3-for-5 with a grand slam and six RBIs in the Yankees' 9-2 rout of Tampa.
Posada's RBI total Saturday was one shy of his career-high. His fifth-inning grand slam was the tenth of his career, moving him past Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle for sixth place on the Yankees' all-time list.
"I'm extremely happy for him," Yankee captain and longtime teammate Derek Jeter said. "…. You're talking about someone that is used to playing every day and has a lot of pride. He's been working extremely hard and he had a huge day."
Prior to Saturday, Posada had not stepped to the plate since Aug. 6, when he went 0-for-4 in a loss to Boston. The next day, Joe Girardi told the 16-year veteran that he would no longer be a regular in the lineup.
"It's tough not to put him in a lineup. It is," Girardi said after Saturday's game. "Jorge and I have a long history together …. I think he's a great player; I think he's a great man."
The unwanted time off wasn't easy on Posada, either.
"It's tough to sit around. It's not easy to be sitting here and looking at everybody playing," said Posada, who stirred up a firestorm in May when he asked out of the lineup after being dropped to ninth.
So when he got his chance on Saturday afternoon, Posada seemed to take any and all frustrations out at the plate.
The switch-hitter started things off with a bases-loaded two-run single in the second, drawing a raucous ovation from the sellout crowd in the Bronx.
After adding another single two innings later, Posada got a second opportunity with the bases loaded in the fifth.
He watched two pitches sail out of the strike zone and attacked Brandon Gomes’ third offering, sending it ten rows back into the right field bleachers. Yankee Stadium seemed to explode as soon as the ball left Posada's bat.
"I heard [the fans] a lot more when I got to the dugout," said Posada, who answered a curtain call after a minute of defeaning cheers.
He later added: "The fans were so supportive, I've got to give them a lot of credit. I play for them, I really do."
Posada has hit safely in 11 of his last 14 games since July 19, batting .300 in that span. He will get a start at DH again on Sunday, according to Girardi.
The manager also hinted that Posada will continue to see time at DH or at first base in the final weeks of the regular season. Though it seems as if it will be tough to fit the veteran in at DH role in the immediate future.
With the Yankees facing a stretch of 30 games in 30 days, Girardi has said he will rotate regulars into the DH role to try and get them a rest. Also, Alex Rodriguez is expected to see more time at DH when and if he returns from a knee injury.
But Posada, in the final year of a four-year contract, isn't worried about the next 30 days. He insists, at this point, that he's only worried about the next at-bat and the next day's game.
"I'm grateful to wear this uniform and I'm really happy that I got a chance today," Posada said.