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Don Mattingly believes retired numbers are well-deserved

New York Yankees' Jorge Posada follows through on

New York Yankees' Jorge Posada follows through on his two-run home run swing that scored Bernie Williams during the third inning against the Anaheim Angels pitcher John Lackey, Tuesday, April 22, 2003, in Anaheim, Calif. Photo Credit: AP / Kevork Djansezian

Think the Yankees are retiring too many numbers? The player whose No. 23 is retired certainly doesn't.

"You know what," Don Mattingly recently told Newsday, "that's the price of having great players and great teams."

Mattingly, now the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, had his number retired by the Yankees in August 1997. At the time, he was the 15th player or manager in franchise history to receive the honor. After this weekend, when the numbers of Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte become forever immortalized in Monument Park, that total will reach 21.

The retired number debate has been a hot topic, with some arguing that it's excessive and a ploy to capitalize on the popularity of the players. Mattingly doesn't see it that way.

"They had a great run of players," he said. "How could you not retire Posada or Bernie [Williams] or Mariano [Rivera]? These guys won five championships. I think they all deserve it."

Posada, who hit 275 homers and was part of five World Series winners, will have his No. 20 retired at the Stadium on Saturday.

Adding intrigue to the ceremony is the relationship between Posada and Joe Girardi, his former teammate and manager. Posada was critical of Girardi in his book, which was released in May. He wrote that he felt mistreated, specifically when Girardi batted him ninth in 2011, leading to Posada's refusal to play. He was also unhappy about being demoted from catcher to designated hitter.

"I have no issues with Jorgie," Girardi said Friday.

Girardi was asked if he has had any contact with Posada since the book came out.

"I saw him the last time he was here [in May when Williams' number was retired], which is normal," he said. "A lot of times, contact with the players who are no longer here is when I see them, just because of schedules."

Pettitte, who went 219-127 with a 3.94 ERA in 15 seasons with the Yankees, will have his No. 46 retired Sunday.

"You got a game you have to win, I'd bring him back right now and put the ball in his hands," said Brett Gardner, who won a World Series with Pettitte and Posada in 2009. "He's the ultimate competitor."

The two will become the fourth and fifth Yankees to have their number retired since 2013 -- following Joe Torre, Rivera and Williams. Too many?

"We're never going to see guys like that again," Gardner said of Posada and Pettitte. "They are very deserving of the honor. So it's kind of fitting that, in the same weekend, they're both getting honored together."


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