Posada dropped to 9th, then scratched from lineup
NEW YORK (AP) — Jorge Posada was a late scratch from the New York Yankees' lineup Saturday night after manager Joe Girardi initially dropped the slumping designated hitter to No. 9 in the order.
Andruw Jones replaced Posada at DH and batted ninth against Boston Red Sox ace Josh Beckett. The Yankees did not say why Posada was pulled about 40 minutes before the first pitch.
Slumping all season in his new role as DH, the 39-year-old Posada was batting .165 with six homers and 15 RBIs.
With the Yankees struggling to get big hits lately, Girardi said it was time to make a switch in an attempt to get some of his sluggers going. He moved scuffling Nick Swisher down to eighth in the order and put Posada in the No. 9 hole.
"It's all right. Just move some people around, get a W or two and get rolling again," Posada said, adding that Girardi informed him of the lineup decision earlier in the day.
The Yankees say the last time Posada hit ninth was exactly 12 years ago, on May 14, 1999, against the Chicago White Sox.
"The only way I'm coming out of hitting ninth is just producing, and that's the bottom line," Posada said before batting practice. "I put myself in this spot. It's not like I want to hit ninth and it's not like I want to hit a hundred and whatever I'm hitting. Just a matter of really coming out of it.
"We're going through a little funk right now and it's a matter of really producing."
A proud and respected veteran who has helped New York win five World Series titles, Posada does have four hits in his last 12 at-bats. But after getting ahead 3-0 in a key at-bat Friday night, he grounded out against hard-throwing Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard to strand the potential tying runs in scoring position.
More than three hours before Saturday's game, Posada said he's felt much better at the plate since a series at Detroit last week. But he said he understood the decision by Girardi, who moved up Russell Martin and Brett Gardner in the batting order.
"I don't feel like I'm in a slump," Posada said. "My average is not what it's supposed to be, and I understand that. But I think my at-bats are a lot better and I feel a lot better at the plate."
Posada has caught at least one game for New York in each of the past 16 seasons and is one of only six major league catchers to hit 20 homers eight times, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
He lost his job behind the plate, however, relegated to DH duty this season in the final year of his contract. The switch-hitter is 0 for 24 against left-handed pitchers, and Girardi wouldn't commit to staying with Posada against southpaws.
"I'll worry about that as we get to left-handed pitchers in the next few days," the manager said.
And how long can he keep playing Posada if his struggles continue?
"Our hope is that he gets going and we don't have to cross that bridge. So I mean, that's my thought process. I don't necessarily think that a guy's not going to be able to do what he's done over the course of his career," Girardi said. "He's struggled more right-handed than he has left-handed. His at-bats left-handed have been better. I just felt that it was time to make that change. You just keep playing it out and you look for guys to turn it around."
Girardi said he had thought about the move for a couple of days but acknowledged it's not easy to make this sort of change with a player of Posada's stature and accomplishment.
"It is. I have a ton of respect for what Jorgie's done over his career and the success that he's had. No one wants to be bumped down or moved down in the order, I don't care who you are. I don't care if you're a young guy who is struggling, you don't want to be moved down. But with what Jorge has meant to this franchise and the success that he's had, you know, it is a little more difficult," Girardi said.
While Posada has struggled most from the right side, Swisher is having trouble from the left side. He was hitting .221 with two homers and 14 RBIs overall.
"If I need to be down there to help this team out, then I'm all for it," Swisher said. "That doesn't bother me."