David Ortiz hit the nail on the head. He agrees that Jorge Posada was wrong for not playing last night against the Boston Red Sox, but Ortiz understands that the situation has been building up for months.
In November, New York’s other team, the New York Yankees, informed Posada that he would not catch, period. He would not catch a single inning or even a bullpen session. Manager Joe Girardi did say that Posada would “probably” be the Yankees emergency catcher.
Posada would be the Yankees designated hitter, which didn’t please him, but he had no choice, not if he wanted to collect his $13.1 million salary.
Posada is batting .165 with a .272 on base average and a .349 slugging average. The Yankees “vaunted” offense is struggling, which prompted Girardi to move Posada to the ninth batting spot.
There are various versions of exactly what occurred.
Posada removed himself from last night’s game, telling Girardi an hour before game time that he “needed a mental day” of rest.
During the game, there was a report from Jack Curry of the YES network stating Posada told Girardi that he was insulted to be put in the ninth slot of the batting order.
Mrs. Posada relayed the information that her husband was suffering from back spasms, but Posada’s father said that his son had made a poor decision.
Posada claimed that he had to clear his head and that “My back stiffened up a little bit. I was taking live ground balls at first base. I wasn’t 100 percent.”
Girardi didn’t find out about the back problem until after he’d been ejected from the game in the seventh inning.
Ortiz, who struggled in 2009, batting only .238 after a horrible start, thought that the Yankees, as well as his friend Jorge, were wrong.
“They’re doing that guy wrong. That guy, he is legendary right there in that organization. And dude, DHing [stinks]. DHing is not easy.
“From what I heard, they told him from the very beginning that he’s not even going to catch bullpens. That straight up will start messing with your head. And you’re going to tell me that Posada can’t catch a game out there? Come on, man.”
But Ortiz, who exemplifies Red Sox class, wouldn’t exonerate Posada.
“You don’t do that. But that’s what I’m trying to tell you guys. The confusion, the frustration that you’re living in sometimes makes you make mistakes. He’s not perfect. He’s a human, just like everyone else. He probably [thought] it was the right thing to do, but now you see that [it wasn’t].”
A greater Yankee than Posada often batted ninth near the end of his career. Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto batted ninth when either Tommy Byrne of Don Larsen started for the Yankees. It is interesting that Rizzuto finished with a .273 batting average. Posada has a .273 career average.
Another Hall of Famer with whom Yankees fans are quite familiar also batted ninth. His name was Bill Mazeroski.
A former Yankees manager had Juan Pierre bat ninth when he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Would Posada have refused to play if Joe Torre were the manager?
Finally, Tony LaRussa often has his pitcher bat eighth, putting a position player in the ninth slot. LaRussa is the manager. He makes the calls.
As David Ortiz said, Posada is allowed a mistake in judgment, but he must make amends. He was wrong, but so were the Yankees with respect to how they treated him.
Finally, the real problem is that the Yankees should never have signed an aging Posada to a four year contract. Posada never should have committed to four years. He should have retired after last season when he hit .248, but who can turn down $13 million a year?
All of the above merely obfuscates the situation which is not complicated.
When the manager decides that a player in going to bat ninth, that is the end of the story.
Ninth Place Hitters