Stripped of his catching job before the season and his DH role last Sunday, Jorge Posada declared himself "not happy.'' But he also acknowledged that because of his performance, "I put myself in this situation.''
The proud veteran, who will turn 40 Wednesday, dipped into his past Saturday. He produced six RBIs and three hits, including a grand slam, in the Yankees' 9-2 win over the Rays in front of 47,804 at the Stadium.
"It's special,'' Posada said. "It's tough to sit around. It's not easy to be sitting here and looking at everybody playing. It's tough.''
Posada lined a two-run single off Jeremy Hellickson in the second to give winning pitcher Phil Hughes a 2-0 lead. And with one out in the fifth, he drove Brandon Gomes' 2-and-0 pitch into the seats in right for his 10th homer of the season, 10th career grand slam and a 7-0 lead.
The accompanying roar dwarfed that given to even Derek Jeter during the pregame ceremony in which he was recognized for his 3,000th hit. Posada received an emphatic double-high-five from Nick Swisher after he crossed the plate, and when his teammates pushed him up the dugout steps for a curtain call and he obliged, the noise reached its apex.
"The fans were so supportive, I really have to give them credit,'' Posada said. "They have been so supportive my whole career. I play for them, I really do.''
It is safe to wonder if that was the last, or at least one of the last, on-field moments Posada will enjoy in pinstripes. He is in the final season of a four-year, $52.4- million deal, and there's little chance he'll be back in 2012. Even being included on the playoff roster remains a long shot.
"I said to him that day in Boston that he was still going to play a role on our team,'' Joe Girardi said. "And I meant it.''
His performance did what seemed an impossibility as the game began -- it shoved Hughes and his future to the side. At least for a day.
Despite three good starts in a row, Hughes seemed all but certain to be removed from the rotation, something the Yankees had but said the last two days without coming out and saying it.
But Freddy Garcia was scratched from Sunday's start after suffering a cut finger in a kitchen accident, and A.J. Burnett will replace him. What effect Garcia's injury will have on Hughes was unclear; Girardi announced only that Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia will start in Kansas City.
Hughes (3-4) shut out the Rays for five innings before giving up two runs in the sixth. He allowed four hits and a walk, striking out six, but the highlight of his day came in the fifth. "I got goose bumps sitting in the dugout,'' he said of Posada's grand slam. "When he got the count to 2-and-0, you knew he was going to do something special.''
Said Jeter: "Jorge, he has a lot of pride. You're talking about someone used to playing every day for a long time . . . Every time he comes up, the fans get into it. They appreciate everything he's done.''
Posada, who was in a 1-for-13 slide at the time, was told by Girardi before last Sunday's game to stay ready but that the best Yankees lineup he could put on the field no longer included him. But he was told even before Saturday's game that he'll start again Sunday ; Posada is 11-for-36 against the Rays' James Shields.
Beyond that? "From now on, I have to look at the lineup card and be ready,'' Posada said. "I haven't given up.''