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04/20/08 1:40 PM ET

Posada expected to catch next week

Girardi may insert veteran behind plate on Tuesday in Chicago

BALTIMORE -- While Jorge Posada wasn't in the Yankees' lineup at his customary position behind the plate on Sunday, manager Joe Girardi said he expects Posada to resume catching at some point this week, perhaps as early as the club's three-game series that begins at U.S. Cellular Park in Chicago on Tuesday night.

"I'd be surprised if he doesn't catch next week," Girardi said of Posada, who has been hampered by a right shoulder strain that inhibits his ability to throw.

Posada has spent time in the past week building up his arm strength by long-tossing, but he only lobbed on Friday and didn't throw on Saturday, playing first base instead. With pregame work at Camden Yards on Sunday limited by rain, Girardi said that Posada would test his arm next on Tuesday.

"He won't throw today," Girardi said on Sunday. "We'll check again on Tuesday -- see how he is and see if the arm is back to full strength."

Girardi is starting to see enough progress to warrant a return to the lineup. Posada has pressed the manager in recent days to play defensively, but Girardi has not been convinced that his catcher is fully recovered.

"I've seen the progress in his arm," Girardi said. "I'm not smart enough to know that he'll be back at full strength next week, but just from the progress I've seen, it's encouraging."

The ice packs that have been strapped to Posada's right shoulder could soon become an unnecessary accessory.

"There's no pain and there's no structural damage," Girardi said. "Obviously, you know it's going to come back, but none of us are smart enough to know exactly when it's going to come back, and you keep trying every day. He'll be back."

When Posada does return behind the plate, the Yankees will continue to carry backup receiver Chad Moeller, who started on Sunday. Jose Molina, recovering from a tender left hamstring that sidelined him for five days, caught on Saturday but was given off for the day game after a night game.

The Yankees don't want to risk losing Moeller, who was signed to a Minor League deal after being released during Spring Training by the Washington Nationals and has become a valuable insurance policy. Moeller entered Sunday's game hitting .313 (5-for-16) with a home run and three RBIs in five games.

In order to be sent back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Moeller would need to be designated for assignment and passed through waivers.

"We've got to see how [Posada] responds if he catches a couple of days, three days in a row," Girardi said. "If his arm goes dead or something happens, it's possible we could lose Chad. We can't afford that."

Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.