Posada planning to contribute off bench
Catcher likely to pinch-hit when Burnett exits Game 2
NEW YORK -- The last time Jorge Posada did not start in the playoffs was Oct. 7, 2005, when then-manager Joe Torre decided that backup John Flaherty was better suited to catch Randy Johnson in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Angels.
He was wrong.
Johnson served up five earned runs in just three innings, and the Yankees wound up losing both the game and the series.
"I don't really remember much," Posada said of that day. "I know I came into the game after Randy was out of the game."
Current Yankees manager Joe Girardi is now at risk of watching his team suffer a similar fate. His decision to use Jose Molina over Posada in Friday's Game 2, a choice that noticeably rankled Posada, will undoubtedly face scrutiny if A.J. Burnett does not pitch well.
"This is a gutsy decision," Flaherty told MLB.com. "If it doesn't work out, he's going to catch a lot of heat for it."
Then again, there's a fair chance it may work. Consider Girardi, who was the personal catcher for both Andy Pettitte and David Cone in the 1998 postseason. Pettitte finished that October 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA. Cone was even better, going 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA.
Girardi, in those seven games, hit just .238. But that was hardly the point. The Yankees won five of the games and, of course, the World Series.
And Posada has no choice but to draw on such histories as justification for his benching.
"I'm not jumping with joy here, but I accept it," Posada said. "A.J. and Jose are going well. I haven't caught A.J. in a while.
|Gm. 1||NYY 7, MIN 2||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 2||NYY 4, MIN 3 (11)||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 3||NYY 4, MIN 1||Wrap||Video|
"It's all about the team right now. It's not about me. It's about everybody together."
More than likely, Posada will come off the bench on Friday, as he did in that 2005 game that Flaherty started. But it is imperative that he block out whatever disrespect he is feeling and focus on the task at hand.
Consider the cautionary tale of Flaherty, who watched Wednesday's Game 1 and wondered whether Posada's two passed balls may have been a reflection of his state of mind.
"Knowing Jorge like I do, he's a prideful guy," said Flaherty, who played alongside Posada for three seasons. "He plays with a lot of passion. And I'm sure he had some demons going through his head [Wednesday] night, because this situation has caught a lot of attention. But you know what? You can't have miscommunication in the first playoff game of the Division Series. CC Sabathia and Jorge have worked together all year. Those are mistakes that just can't happen."
Posada, for his part, said he will prepare for Friday's game as if he were starting. Eventually, Burnett will leave the game and the Yankees will allow Posada to pinch-hit for Molina. About the only way that scenario wouldn't take place is if Burnett is throwing a gem -- an outcome that Posada certainly wouldn't mind.
This whole situation came about due to some midsummer miscommunications between Posada and Burnett, a situation that boiled over during a late-August blowout loss in Boston. Burnett, upset at Posada's pitch selection, appeared to lash out on the mound after Posada's repeated calls for pitches other than curveballs.
In 16 starts throwing to Posada, Burnett held opposing batters to a .270 average, going 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA in those games. In 11 starts with Molina, Burnett was 5-2 with a 3.28 ERA, with opposing batters hitting just .221 off him.
Realizing the rift, and realizing that hitters were faring far better against the Burnett-Posada battery than Burnett-Molina, Girardi opted to start his backup at catcher in each of Burnett's final six regular-season games.
Game 2 will make it seven straight, leaving Posada without a prominent role. Hideki Matsui will start at designated hitter, so that option is out. And it leaves Posada just one option.
"I can't do nothing about it," Posada said. "Just sit and watch the ballgame."
How a personal battery fares in the postseason
|Since 1976, when a personal battery works together, its playoff record is 23-21; the team's record is 34-24 in such starts.|
Starts as battery
Playoff starter W-L
Team playoff W-L
|1976||PHI||Steve Carlton||Tim McCarver||31||0-1||0-1|
|1977||PHI||Steve Carlton||Tim McCarver||36||0-1||1-1|
|1978||PHI||Steve Carlton||Tim McCarver||34||1-0||1-0|
|1979||BAL||Dennis Martinez||Dave Skaggs||35||0-0||1-2|
|1989||OAK||Bob Welch||Ron Hassey||31||1-0||1-0|
|1990||OAK||Dave Stewart||Terry Steinbach||30||2-2||2-2|
|1990||OAK||Bob Welch||Ron Hassey||35||1-0||1-1|
|1991||MIN||Scott Erickson||Junior Ortiz||28||0-0||2-1|
|1993||ATL||John Smoltz||Greg Olson||30||0-1||0-1|
|1995||ATL||Greg Maddux||Charlie O'Brien||22||3-1||4-1|
|1996||NYA||Andy Pettitte||Jim Leyritz||27||2-1||4-1|
|1997||BAL||Scott Erickson||Lenny Webster||29||2-0||2-1|
|1997||ATL||Greg Maddux||Eddie Perez||31||1-2||1-2|
|1997||HOU||Darryl Kile||Tony Eusebio||27||0-1||0-1|
|1998||HOU||Shane Reynolds||Tony Eusebio||29||0-0||1-0|
|1998||ATL||Greg Maddux||Eddie Perez||32||1-1||1-1|
|1999||NYA||Andy Pettitte||Joe Girardi||27||2-0||3-0|
|2001||ATL||Greg Maddux||Paul Bako||34||0-2||1-2|
|2001||HOU||Shane Reynolds||Tony Eusebio||24||0-1||0-1|
|2002||ATL||Greg Maddux||Henry Blanco||31||1-0||1-0|
|2002||ARI||Miguel Batista||Rod Barajas||27||0-1||0-1|
|2003||BOS||Tim Wakefield||Doug Mirabelli||32||2-1||2-1|
|2003||ATL||Greg Maddux||Henry Blanco||33||0-1||0-1|
|2004||HOU||Roy Oswalt||Raul Chavez||33||1-0||1-1|
|2004||BOS||Tim Wakefield||Doug Mirabelli||30||0-0||1-0|
|2005||BOS||Tim Wakefield||Doug Mirabelli||29||0-1||0-1|
|2007||CLE||Paul Byrd||Kelly Shoppach||31||2-0||2-0|
|2007||ARI||Livan Hernandez||Miguel Montero||32||1-1||1-1|
|2007||BOS||Tim Wakefield||Doug Mirabelli||27||0-1||0-1|
|2008||BOS||Tim Wakefield||Kevin Cash||30||0-1||0-1|
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.