Jorge Posada has made no secret of his reluctance to become a full-time designated hitter. Part of that may be pride. But another part is that he has never been very good at it.
Posada is a lifetime .213 hitter as a DH. The Yankees are hoping he takes to it in the future as well as he did Saturday, when his third-inning grand slam fueled a 9-3 win over the Astros at Yankee Stadium.
Posada's 250th career home run snapped a 2-2 tie and helped make a winner of Javier Vazquez, who went seven innings and allowed three runs in his latest strong start.
Vazquez (6-5, 5.43 ERA), the winning pitcher in three straight outings and five of his last six appearances, gave up six hits, including a pair of solo home runs, with no walks and six strikeouts.
Posada's eighth career grand slam and first since 2004 came off lefthander Wandy Rodriguez (3-9, 5.60) and went to right-centerfield. It was his first home run since May 15.
Posada has been acting as the Yankees' designated hitter since his return from the disabled list June 2. This season, he's 10-for-53 (.189) with three home runs and nine RBIs as a DH after going 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch.
"[DHing] is tough to do," Posada said. "It's not easy when you play every day. It's like pinch hitting four times. I don't know what to do with myself between innings."
Does Posada like DHing any better after Saturday?
"No," he said.
Well, he won't have to do it Sunday. After the game, manager Joe Girardi said, "Unless he comes in and can't walk, he's going to catch for us [Sunday]."
How did Posada take the news? "There was a nice little smile there," Girardi said. "He's been champing at the bit here. It's nice the way it works out. We got a game [Sunday] and a day off [Monday], so I thought it was a good time . . . I talked to the doctors and they thought he was ready."
The Yankees will need Posada to prove he can catch if he wants to be more than a pinch hitter when they play interleague series at Arizona and Los Angeles on June 21-27. When Alex Rodriguez and his sore hip / groin rejoin the lineup, Girardi may want to give him a few more DH days than previously planned.
Posada said reaching 250 home runs - tying him for seventh place on the Yankees' all-time list with Graig Nettles - was very important to him. He was presented with the ball, already encased in plastic.
"To tell you the truth, it's not like another homer," he said. "It's meaningful. Obviously, not so many catchers get to be in this spot. I'm really happy I got a chance to be here and still be here and do that."
As for Jeter, he homered leading off the bottom of the first into the Astros bullpen in left-center, his 24th leadoff home run, tying Rickey Henderson's Yankees record. In the sixth, Jeter hit a three-run shot to right-center off Jeff Fulchino. It was his ninth career multi-homer game and gave him eight home runs on the season.