Ailing Posada mulls position change
Veteran catcher could move to first base or DH
NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada has been advised that his right labrum is deteriorating and will require surgery, but the switch-hitting Yankees slugger may be able to continue his season as a first baseman or designated hitter.
The 36-year-old Posada has experienced a weakness in his throwing shoulder all season and has ruled out catching for the remainder of the campaign.
The injury does not affect him as much when he is hitting, and with six months of estimated rehabilitation looming, Posada must decide if he is willing to play this season at the possible expense of losing time in 2009.
"It's not about me. It's about the team now," Posada said. "How can I help the team? That's why I'm going to go through the rehab. If I'm able to hit, I'm going to try to do that. If I'm not able to hit, I'm going to have surgery."
Posada was placed on the disabled list retroactive to Sunday, and had his right shoulder examined on Tuesday by Dr. David Altchek in New York. Posada -- hitting .268 with three home runs and 22 RBIs this year -- may still be able to help the Yankees, though he expressed disappointment that it will not be behind the plate.
"Coming into Spring Training, I felt so good with the arm," Posada said. "That was one thing I was really looking forward to. I was throwing and I had no problem. Then I started playing the games and something happened. I don't know when it happened. One day I couldn't even lift my arm to brush my hair."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that his club could benefit from having Posada's bat in the lineup, especially while dealing with the reality that they may be without regular designated hitter Hideki Matsui the rest of the way. He was not surprised that Posada would be reluctant to end his season.
"I think that's what players want to do all the time, they want to play," Girardi said. "Obviously he's eventually going to have surgery, and it's an ongoing process and discussion between everyone involved. Right now, he's talking about trying to DH and play first. We'll just see how things go."
Posada had never spent a day on the disabled list before this season, but his weakened state made it easy for opposing clubs to take advantage of him on the basepaths. The Yankees tried a strengthening program to help his shoulder, but the repeated workload of throwing made the gains negligible. Removing catching from his duties could help.
"If I'm not throwing and I strengthen it, I won't feel it because I'm not messing with the labrum," Posada said.
Girardi said that over the course of the next two weeks, he would meet with Posada and general manager Brian Cashman to decide the proper next step. Girardi said that it is "possible" Posada could not be ready to catch on Opening Day 2009 if he delays the surgery.
"That's something that Jorge has to wrestle with," Girardi said. "This is not like a decision that is up to Brian or myself or the doctors. The player has to be on board. Jorgie has to weigh the risk and reward. You can't make a player do something -- that's the bottom line."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.