Jorge Posada knew better than to smile about his two-homer game in Sunday's 10-7 loss to the Tigers. But the Yankees' designated hitter seemed especially glum as he continues to adjust to his new role.
"I came into spring training with the idea that I was going to be the DH, and I'm still here," he said when asked if anything about having his defensive contributions shelved surprised him. But he added that he's still trying to get comfortable with it.
"It's still new," he said. "It's just, get ready for those four at- bats. And that's what I'm doing."
He did it the best he's done in a while against the Tigers, hitting two two-run homers to rightfield in his first three at-bats against Detroit starter Max Scherzer. It was the first multihomer game for Posada since Sept. 1, 2009, in Baltimore. More significantly, perhaps, it was his first multihomer game as a designated hitter.
Both homers came with Posada batting third in the inning, and both came on either the first or second pitch of his at-bat. Posada called that a coincidence, but he also noted that focus can be better when a plate appearance is a certainty in any particular half-inning.
"Every time we're on offense, I'm in there looking to hit," he said. "But it is easier when you know that you're up."
When the Yankees are in the field, Posada's regimen includes riding an exercise bike, taking some swings to stay loose and watching the Yankees' pitchers. "The routine is a part of getting ready to hit," he said.
But catchers are so entrenched in the game that the sudden lack of participation can pose a problem. That's why Joe Girardi -- a former catcher -- suggested that Posada use his imagination. A little fantasy baseball, if you will, right in the dugout.
"I think it's important that they find things to do with their mind in between innings," Girardi said. "We talked a little bit about it with Jorgie, and for Jorgie, I would recommend that he almost calls pitches and watches the opposing hitters like he was going to catch the next day."
Girardi has made it very clear, of course, that Posada will not be catching. Stripped of his shin guards, Posada is trying to concentrate on small snippets and his reduced responsibilities.
"At the end of the day, it's just about four at-bats and being productive in those four at-bats," he said. "No matter what, putting the at-bat behind you, the one before, and looking forward to the next one."