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Jorge Posada throws out first pitch

NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada is used to catching pitches behind the plate. On Friday, though, Posada threw one from the mound -- to his father, Jorge Sr.

The recently retired Yankees catcher threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to his former team's home opener at Yankee Stadium. He is the 11th former Yankee to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day in the Bronx.

Posada's offering was a bit high, but he still received a ton of applause from the appreciative sellout crowd.

"It wasn't difficult to come back so soon because I think I'm enjoying home and I'm enjoying the retirement but it was difficult to come back, period, still be here," Posada said after his first pitch. "I was really nervous to be up there and all eyes on you, (thinking), 'Please don't bounce it.' I'm warming up in the cage and my daddy's looking at me and saying, 'You're throwing it too hard, please throw it a little softer so I can catch it.' The fans were super amazing."

Posada's former teammates stood behind the mound, and he hugged each before walking off the field. The scoreboard read, "Thank You Jorge." The Yankees had wanted one of Posada's long-time teammates, closer Mariano Rivera, to catch the pitch, but Posada wanted his father to be part of the moment.

"It was like old times playing catch with him," Posada said. "They told me that they wanted Mariano to catch it and I was super excited to have Mariano catch it but I think for me, to have my dad there, was a little bit more important. I wouldn't be here and had the career I had if it wasn't for them, so I wanted to share that moment with him."

"To see him and watch him throw out the first pitch, it was outstanding," said Rivera. "I think the fans needed to see that too. Us, as teammates, we needed to see him. It was wonderful having him here and playing the game we play, knowing that he was happy. He was one of those players who always brings out the best in us."

Posada, 40, played 16 seasons for the Yankees from 1996 to 2011. He was a five-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion. He said he's enjoying his new life in Miami as a retired player, which involves taking his kids to school and picking them up, working out with his wife, Laura, and helping out his children with their activities. He's been helping his son, Jorge, as he has started playing baseball and has become an outfielder.

"I think he has helped me a little bit on being home," Posada said, "because I'm still on a baseball field but I'm helping him."

The catcher struggled through his final season in 2011, batting just .235 and driving in 44 runs as the team's primary designated hitter. He asked out of the lineup in May after being dropped to the ninth spot in the order, and lost his catching duties in what was the final year of a four-year contract he signed with the Bronx Bombers in 2007.

He said Friday that he was ready to go home after the Yankees lost in the ALDS to Detroit last October, and his official retirement came on Jan. 24 at a ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Teams had called Posada and were interested in signing him, but Posada wanted to stay with the Yankees, as he "didn't want to be another guy on another team." The Yankees never offered Posada a contract.

Posada added that it took him a little while to get used to not playing, but every day that passed made it a little bit easier, and it became clear to him that he wanted to stay home with his family.

"At the end it was like, 'Should I keep doing this?'" Posada said. "'Should I keep trying to hang on and not playing the position that I wanted to play?' And that decision was easier when the season was over."

While former teammate Andy Pettitte came out of retirement to return to the Yankees this season, Posada joked that he's going to have to wait one year, like Pettitte did, before he can think about a possible return to the team. He would like to be involved in baseball in the future, be it in a managerial or front office role.

"I'm looking for a job," Posada joked. "Right now, I really want to have a summer off. See what happens next year. I don't want to be living in a suitcase or being away from the kids. It's tough. (If) the right position comes, I would like to stay in the game."

Being back in the Bronx on Opening Day brought back great memories for Posada, who batted. 273, hit 275 home runs and drove in 1,065 runs during his career in pinstripes.

"It's like a playoff, it's like a World Series, it's that atmosphere that you get those chills and butterflies -- you're eager to get on the field and put that uniform on," Posada said. "For some reason it seems like you don't sleep enough, you wake up a little bit easier than usual, that excitement, and here it's just super special."

Matt Ehalt and Mike Mazzeo are frequent contributors to ESPNNewYork.com.