Posada discusses recovery, '09 outlook
Yankees catcher looks ahead to getting club back on track
NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada has a blueprint for how the 2009 Yankees should look, and it's an optimistic one.
He'd be catching -- not playing first base -- on Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium, and at least one of baseball's top free agent starting pitchers would be in pinstripes. Oh, and Joba Chamberlain would be in the bullpen, this time for the entire season.
Posada spoke on Monday after taping an episode of the YES Network's Centerstage program. In a word association exercise with host Michael Kay, Posada did not hesitate when Chamberlain's name came up, firing back, "Keep him in the bullpen."
"I see him as a reliever," Posada explained later. "I think his body is made up for a reliever. He's 22 years old. I don't think he's going to be able to put in that workload of having 200 [innings] every year, even at a young age. This year tells you a sign. It tells you that he gets a little tendinitis, and that tells you a lot."
The Yankees have not officially decided their 2009 plan for Chamberlain, but a decision will be made shortly following the season. Chamberlain began the year in the bullpen but transitioned into the rotation in June, making 12 starts before being shut down with tendinitis on Aug. 4. He has since returned to relief.
Because he will not reach his envisioned innings count for the year, Chamberlain would have to follow a similar program if he is to pitch in New York's rotation in 2009. Posada expressed doubts that Chamberlain will be able to make it through a full season without injury.
"There's not much you can do to prevent him from throwing 200 innings," Posada said. "If you start from the beginning of the season and get 30-something starts, I don't see it."
Posada, 37, said it has been difficult to watch the Yankees as he recovers from a late July surgical procedure to repair labrum damage in his throwing shoulder.
"I haven't been watching the whole games," Posada said. "I really can't take it. I can't take nine innings of watching on TV. What I've seen is that we really don't have enough pitching. It's tough to come back every day and try to score six or seven. It's a tough time for the lineup to overcome that."
He said the Yankees' biggest problem is the starting rotation, saying, "We can't have question marks." Posada said the team needs a solid five-man rotation and campaigned for the organization to pursue at least two top-flight free agent starters, naming Milwaukee's CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, plus Toronto's A.J. Burnett, as potential targets.
"They're going to be free agents. The question is, do they want to come to New York?" Posada said. "We're pretty much going to be in it, but you don't know if those guys are going to want to come here. I hope they do."
Posada has been doing light rehab work and said that he will resume throwing in December. He expects to be healthy in time for Spring Training in February, giving him two months to prepare for catching on Opening Day. He expects to be ready to catch 120 to 130 games.
"It's really too early, but the shoulder feels fine -- no pain," Posada said. "It's getting stronger."
Posada played seven games at first base this year after his shoulder -- injured during Spring Training -- limited his throwing from behind the plate. Jason Giambi is likely to become a free agent after this season, and with both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui already expressing interest in playing first base, Posada said that his future should be as a catcher.
"Everybody wants to play first base -- that's what I hear," Posada said. "I want to catch. I feel comfortable there and I'll work really hard to get to Spring Training and catch."
The full episode of Centerstage is scheduled to air on Sept. 28, immediately following the Yankees' final regular-season game.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.