Saying his back "stiffened up" but at the same time acknowledging a need to "clear" his head, a struggling Jorge Posada asked out of the lineup an hour before Saturday night's 6-0 loss to Boston.
It ignited a brushfire that had the veteran firing shots at the general manager after the game and admitting to feeling disrespected dating to last November, when he was informed he had lost his catching job.
Posada, 39, slotted to bat ninth Saturday night for the first time in 12 years, told Joe Girardi in his office that he needed a day off but did not give a reason beyond "that I was not able to play today." Girardi confirmed as much, saying the conversation was a "really short" one.
Posada, hitting .165 as the team's DH, has batted sixth in five games, seventh in 26 games and eighth in one game this season. He didn't say much about the conversation with Girardi, either, but had plenty to say about GM Brian Cashman, who told Posada after the 2010 season that his catching days were over.
Cashman went on Fox and then met with reporters early in Saturday night's game. He said "there is no injury" but didn't comment further. Posada, who said before the game and again afterward that batting ninth wasn't the reason he asked out, was not thrilled. "I don't know why he made a statement in the middle of the game," Posada said. "I don't understand that. So . . . that's the way he works now."
Is he angry at Cashman? "I think we should have waited for the game to be over to talk to whoever during the game," he said. "You're not supposed to do that."
Reached by Newsday after Posada spoke, Cashman was unrepentant. "It's disappointing," he said of Posada's reaction. "Jorgie knew what I was going to say, as well as his agents .''
The GM added: "It's a situation created by Jorgie, and it can only be explained by Jorgie . . . Myself, Joe Girardi and the medical staff know what happened prior to the game.''
Posada said he took a lot of ground balls at first base in batting practice and saw a chiropractor during the game, although he said his back injury is not serious.
During the game, a source with knowledge of the situation said Cashman, who spoke to Posada at about 6:30 p.m., made an appeal to Posada to play. The source said the Yankees, who have the option of fining him two days' pay but hadn't decided yet, have reason to believe that if he again asks out of the lineup (for a reason that is not injury-related), they would have grounds to terminate his contract.
Posada, who has had an uneasy relationship with his manager since supplanting him as the Yankees' starting catcher in 1998, is in the final year of a four-year, $52.4-million deal that will pay him $13.1 million in 2011.
In his nearly 10-minute postgame news conference, Girardi didn't field a question about the actual game until the last minute -- and that was only because he shut down further Posada questioning.
"This is a situation, obviously, we will take care of," he said. "Players go through difficult times in this game. Sometimes we need days to clear our head and to take a deep breath."
Posada explained what he meant by "clearing his head."
"The season, the way it's going," he said. "That's about it. I need a little bit more time, to talk to my wife and the people who are around me."
He said that does not mean he is ready for retirement.
"I still want to be here, I love playing and I love playing for this organization," he said. "Hopefully, we can move on."