For Posada, another monumental milestone
Catcher adds new Stadium's first homer to illustrious career
NEW YORK -- With one swing of the bat, Jorge Posada further engraved his name into Yankees lore on April 16, as the ball he hit landed in Monument Park for the first home run in the new Yankee Stadium.
It was an auspicious moment for the 37-year-old catcher, who played in only 51 games last season and is coming off shoulder surgery performed last July.
"I think it's going to hit me more when I'm sitting at home with my kids and I can explain to them just what an amazing feat it was," Posada said in a news conference at Yankee Stadium for Spanish-language media.
But not all has been rosy for the veteran backstop, who admitted that he is not completely recuperated after the procedure to repair a tear in his right shoulder.
"I feel that [the shoulder] is not 100 percent. I can't lie," said Posada, who was recently taken out of a game vs. the Indians in the eighth inning and replaced by backup catcher Jose Molina when the speedy part of the Cleveland's lineup was due at the plate.
That inaugural series at the new Yankee Stadium was full of surprises, as the Indians and the Yankees combined to hit 20 home runs in four games. Posada, however, rejects the theory that there is a flaw in the stadium's design that explains the unusually high home run total for the series.
"It's because of the wind, nothing else," Posada said. "Now they're doing a ton of analysis on the park. I would say it's a bit absurd."
The Yankees also suffered one of the worst losses in their history in that series, as they fell to the Indians in the third game, 22-4. Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang started and took the loss after allowing eight runs in 1 1/3 innings. Wang has a 34.50 ERA in six innings pitched this season, and the team has decided to skip his next start in Boston.
"Chien-Ming Wang needs to pitch," Posada said. "Chien-Ming Wang has not pitched. We have to find the way to get him to his throwing angle. Right now, his shoulder is too high when he's throwing. We need to lower his arm a bit."
But even with all the ups and down of the regular season's first two weeks, Posada has not lost confidence in the Yankees' starting rotation.
"We have five starters that each day we know we have a chance to win," Posada said. "I don't think we've had that since 2003. We haven't had five starters like we have now to be able to get to the playoffs and advance."
And according to him, the team's goal is the same he has known all throughout his career in pinstripes.
"We not only think about the playoffs. From the moment we get to Spring Training, we are focused and have in mind getting to the World Series," Posada said. "I think with the way that we think, we're going to go far. To say the truth, we have a tremendous approach in the clubhouse."
Posada is in the second year of the four-year, $52.4 million contract that he signed during the 2007-08 offseason. He is approaching the last years of his career as a catcher but is aware that it is unlikely that he will have a future as a first baseman with the only team he's played for so far.
"With this team, I doubt it. We just signed a guy for seven years who can play first base," said Posada, referring to Mark Teixeira.
"I love catching. I love being behind the plate. I love being in charge."
Although changes undoubtedly await Posada in the next few years, the prospect does not affect the honor he feels for belonging to the Yankees nor the responsibility that affiliation comes with.
"Every time I put on this uniform, I feel extremely proud," Posada said. "You have to work very hard to get here and even harder to stay here. New York isn't easy."
Nathalie Alonso is a contributing writer to LasMayores.com, the Spanish-language Web site for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.