NEW YORK -- Realizing he likely played his final game in pinstripes, an emotional Jorge Posada cut short his media session after the New York Yankees lost Game 5 of the ALDS, 3-2, to the Detroit Tigers. Tears came to Posada's eyes when he was asked about what the fans have meant to him.
"They have been awesome," Posada said. "The fans have been unbelievable to this team and to me."
Posada, 40, spoke for 3½ minutes before he welled up and politely walked away.
In the Game 5 loss, Posada went 2-for-4. During the playoff series, he finished 6-for-14 (.429), which was the best on the Yankees. He had a .579 on-base percentage.
"He was awesome," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who also got emotional when talking about Posada. "He's had a tremendous career and I'm sure he's going to play, and I don't know what's to happen."
Posada declined to answer whether he thought this was his last game as a Yankee. Several times this year, he has said he would consider playing for another team if the Yankees don't want him.
Posada, 40, completed his four-year, $52.4 million contract. Last winter, the Yankees moved Posada from behind the plate, making him a part-time DH. Posada had his fewest at-bats in a non-injury season since 1997.
In his 344 regular-season at-bats, he finished with 14 homers and 44 RBIs. In a game in May, he removed himself from the lineup against the Boston Red Sox when Girardi had him batting ninth. Later in the season, Girardi benched him, but each time Posada fought back to earn some playing time. He ended up picking up the game-winning hit in the Yankees' AL East-clinching win against the Red Sox last month.
"I'm not prepared to talk about the winter right now," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. The GM's contract is also up, but he's expected to return.
With the Tigers featuring righties, Posada started each of the five playoff games.
"What he gave us in the postseason, I don't think there is a prouder moment that I've had of Jorgie," Girardi said.
Girardi later added, "The heart that he showed during this series, that's why Jorgie has been a great player."
With the Yankees wanting to open up the DH position as a place to rest Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and others -- and with Jesus Montero's emergence -- the expectation is that Posada will not be offered a contract for 2012.
"Next year is all going to wait for all of us," Cashman said earlier in the week.
Cashman appreciates what Posada has meant over a Yankees career that really began in full force in 1997.
"He is definitely one of the premiere catchers of this generation," Cashman said. "He is a borderline Hall of Famer and he is one of the best catchers in Yankee history."
If Posada is indeed finished in New York, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will be sad to see his longtime friend and teammate go.
"I definitely will miss him, definitely will miss him," Rivera said.
Meanwhile, Yankees ace CC Sabathia is facing a decision on whether to return to the Bronx next season. Sabathia, 31, has an opt-out clause in his seven-year, $161 million contract that he can use to make himself a free agent. Since spring training Sabathia has refused to say if he will use the opt-out or not. Sabathia has four years and $92 million remaining on his current contract.
After the Yankees' loss, in which Sabathia pitched in relief for the first time in his career, he said "a lot" will go into his decision, starting with his family and "everything that matters."
"We just have to wait and see," Sabathia said.
Cashman has already pegged keeping Sabathia as a top priority.
"He is our ace," Cashman said. "He ranks highly."
Sabathia finished the regular season at 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA. In his 1 1/3 innings in relief on Thursday, he allowed a run, which raised his ERA for the series to 6.23 in 8 2/3 innings.
Sabathia has been worth his money thus far. In 2009, his first season with the club, he led the Yankees to the World Series title by pitching on three days' rest throughout the postseason. Over his three seasons, Sabathia is 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA.
"I love it," Sabathia said when asked about playing in the Bronx. "I've loved this since day one that I got here."
The Yankees originally gave Sabathia the opt-out clause to ease any fears that he had in coming to the Bronx.
The team and Sabathia could work out an extension before Sabathia can negotiate with other teams after the World Series. A glum Sabathia slouched in his clubhouse as he contemplated the season's finality.
"It's stunning," Sabathia said. "It's always tough when you lose."
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.