Posada loses his DH role; now what?

New York Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada reacts

New York Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada reacts after striking out with the bases loaded while pinch hitting in the top of the sixth inning against the New York Mets at CitiField. (July 1, 2011) Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

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BOSTON -- Jorge Posada's days as a member of the Yankees' lineup could be over forever.

Manager Joe Girardi did not start Posada Sunday night against Red Sox righthander Josh Beckett, opting to play Eric Chavez at designated hitter and Eduardo Nuñez at third base.

Girardi, in a pregame conversation with Posada, made it clear that this is the way it's going to be: Even if the DH shifts around, it won't be Posada.

"He was OK with it," Girardi said. "Jorgie has a lot of respect and pride in what he's done. You could see the disappointment and understand that."

Said Posada: "He said he was going to put the best lineup on the field and he doesn't know when I'm going to DH again. So right now I'm sitting the bench."

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According to Girardi, the Yankees are committed to using Chavez as the lefthanded DH for the time being. That had been the last outpost for Posada; the everyday catcher in 2010, he started this season as the regular DH but lost half of the job after an abysmal performance as a righthanded batter.

Posada went into Sunday night batting .230 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs in 282 at-bats. As a righthanded hitter, he was 6-for-58 (.103).

"I'm not happy about it, but right now I can't do anything about it," said Posada, who was 12-for-45 (.267) against Beckett and 59-for-224 (.263) as a lefthanded hitter this season. "I put myself in this situation. You just have to keep on working."

This is the third time the Yankees have had a difficult conversation with Posada, who made his Yankees debut in 1995, will turn 40 on Aug. 17 and is in the final year of his contract.

GM Brian Cashman told him in the offseason that he wasn't going to catch anymore. Girardi and Cashman had to smooth things over with him after Posada refused to play against the Red Sox in May when he was placed in the ninth spot in the order. And now Girardi has told Posada he is going to be a bench player with no guarantee of ever getting back into the lineup.

At least he wasn't released. That still could happen if the Yankees decide to call up top prospect Jesus Montero before rosters expand Sept. 1.

"Jorgie's with us, and my plans are he'll be with us," Girardi said.

The Yankees are carrying 13 pitchers and only three extra position players: Posada, Francisco Cervelli and Andruw Jones. Girardi said they expect to go back to 12 pitchers eventually.

Alex Rodriguez could be back from the disabled list in 10 days or so and is expected to get DH at-bats. If Montero comes up, it won't be as a catcher, Girardi indicated. Either of those moves would push Posada even further down the depth chart, if not off the team altogether. "We're going to see how this works," Girardi said. "We're going to try some different things. We'll see how this works. I told Jorgie, 'You're still going to be a big part of this and we're going to need you. We're just going to do some different things.' "

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