Posada put on DL for first time in career, scheduled to have shoulder examined

CLEVELAND -- The New York Yankees took the field Monday missing a familiar face: Jorge Posada, the club's proud catcher and one of its leaders, was in Alabama getting his injured right shoulder examined.

Posada was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career, ending a remarkable run of durability at baseball's most physically demanding position. The 36-year-old, who has caught at least 120 games in each of the past eight seasons, finally succumbed to pain in his shoulder that he had been feeling for most of the season's first month.

"It's kind of strange to go into the clubhouse and you don't see him," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who helped teach Posada in the 1990s. "He's a quiet leader. He's a constant in the clubhouse, you like to see guys like that."

With Posada out, Jose Molina will take over the starting catching duties. The Yankees also recalled 26-year-old Chris Stewart from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Yankees said Posada was scheduled to visit famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. The club did not know whether Posada had yet been examined by Andrews.

New York played its series finale on Monday night against the Cleveland Indians without Posada on their active roster. It's the first time he's not been part on the Yankees' active roster since Sept. 1, 1996.

A Yankees spokesman was awaiting word from general manager Brian Cashman for an update on Posada.

On Sunday, an emotional Posada said he was worried that his shoulder, which had been acting up for weeks, was more damaged than initial tests showed. An MRI revealed a strain and Posada was hoping rest and rehab could strengthen his shoulder enough to let him play.

He sat out for a few games and seemed to be making progress but felt pain in his shoulder while making a throw to third base after a strikeout on Saturday. The pain lingered the following day and Posada, who had a torn labrum repaired in the shoulder by Andrews after the 2001 season, decided it was time to find out exactly what was wrong.

"Jorge has been frustrated because it hasn't responded the way he had hoped," Girardi said. "I think players always think the worst, and managers think the best."

Girardi said if Posada only has a strained shoulder, surgery will not be necessary.

Posada signed a four-year, $52.4 million contract in November. After speaking with reporters following New York's 1-0 win Sunday, he walked to the team bus with shortstop Derek Jeter, his close friend who is confident Posada will be fine.

"He'll be all right. I'm not a doctor, but my opinion is he'll be OK," Jeter said. "I know that Jorge takes a lot of pride in playing. It's better off to rest it now than run into a problem later in the season. Other guys have to step up, pick up the slack.

"Obviously, Jorge is tough to replace, but every team goes through things like this. The thing is, I think he'll still be in here [the clubhouse] and that's important. He'll be on the DL a couple weeks."

Along with his leadership, the Yankees will miss Posada's bat. Molina is solid defensively, but is unlikely to contribute significant offensive numbers; Molina is batting .245 with two RBIs in 49 at-bats. Not expecting Posada's trip to the DL, the Yankees designated veteran catcher Chad Moeller for assignment on Friday.

For now, Stewart will back up Molina. He has played briefly with the Chicago White Sox and Texas.

Stewart was unexpectedly released by the Rangers at the end of training camp. The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal just before their season opener.

"It's been a rollercoaster ride, that's the best way to explain it," Stewart said. "I wish I could be here under better circumstances. I'm getting caught up in being a New York Yankee right now."