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Posada's situation has become a mess

Jorge Posada (20) of the New York Yankees

Jorge Posada (20) of the New York Yankees reacts after a fly out against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium. (May 10, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

How ironic that, for a guy never renowned for his defense, Jorge Posada might have committed the biggest error of his career Saturday.

As the designated hitter.

On the same day that the slumping Posada was dropped to ninth in the Yankees' lineup, he told Joe Girardi -- about an hour before game time -- that he wasn't up to playing this important game against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

It takes something pretty significant to turn Red Sox-Yankees into a sidebar, so hats off to Posada for that. But the Yankees have a major internal rift on their hands, and it's one that we can't see dragging on for very long.

Put simply, if Posada doesn't both acquire contrition and rediscover his hitting stroke in a hurry, then the Yankees can't keep him around. Based on their history, they won't.

"I love to play this game. I love to have fun," Posada said after the Yankees' 6-0 loss to Boston, giving them a season-high four-game losing streak. "This is something I don't want ever to be on my resume."

Probably too late for that. Posada has built immense goodwill with the Yankees, their fans and the media with 15-plus seasons of mental toughness, slugging and integrity. He managed to blow up much of that positivity with his actions before and after the game.

Once Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced, in the second inning, that Posada removed himself from the lineup for a reason unrelated to health, Posada's wife, Laura, wrote on Twitter that her husband experienced back stiffness. But Posada admitted that he didn't communicate that to Girardi or Cashman in the pregame meeting.

After the game, Posada seemed more concerned about Cashman's news conference than he did about any repercussions his actions had with his teammates or his superiors.

"I didn't know that he made a statement," Posada said of the Yankees' general manager. "I don't know why he made a statement during the game. I don't understand that. That's the way he works now."

Responded Cashman: "It's disappointing. Jorgie knew what I was going to say, as did his agents [Sam and Seth Levinson].''

Posada essentially tried to change the debate from his behavior to Cashman's media-relations skills. It proved a losing strategy.

To be fair, when an event of this magnitude occurs, everyone must be accountable. For whatever reason, Posada has failed to buy into his transition from catcher to designated hitter despite being given notice in November.

Asked if he felt disrespected by the organization since November, Posada said: "A little bit. A little bit."

Cashman, handcuffed by the four-year deal the Steinbrenner family gave to Posada in 2007, apparently didn't do a convincing enough sales job. However, it's ultimately the manager's job to have his players ready, so Girardi takes a hit here as well.

Always a better manager of games than of people, he never has fully closed the tension that existed with Posada when they were Yankees teammates. Instead of taking on the role of good cop to Cashman's bad cop, he has become a second enemy to Posada.

Girardi tried to express sympathy toward Posada, owner of a .165 batting average, late Saturday night. Said Girardi: "When you look up and your average is in the 100s, it's tough. I've been there. It's tough to look at."

This'll be tough to tolerate if it goes on much longer. The Yankees thumped their chests Saturday, touting their legal options concerning insubordination, but we probably won't get there. The more likely end game would be a release, allowing Posada to play elsewhere if he chooses.

It would be a most ugly departure for a great Yankee. There's still time to fix it. But only, to borrow Posada's phrase, a little bit.

New York Sports