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11/10/10 1:05 PM EST

After surgery, Posada may switch to DH in '11

Yanks plan to give Montero chance at winning catching job

NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada had surgery Wednesday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and is expected to be ready for Spring Training, but his time behind the plate may be reduced next year.

The 39-year-old Posada has been told that he may head into 2011 as the Yankees' designated hitter, as the team is preparing to have power-hitting prospect Jesus Montero challenge Posada for the starting catching position.

Posada said at a charity event in New York on Sunday that he wanted to know what his situation would be next season, which spurred a conversation with general manager Brian Cashman.

While Posada showed he was still able to contribute to the Yankees' offense, batting .248 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs in 120 games, injuries hampered his season and opponents appeared to run at will on him late in the year.

Posada was limited to just 78 starts at catcher, appearing in another 28 games as the DH. The Yankees also had concerns about the number of foul tips Posada took, including at least one in September off his mask that caused a concussion.

Posada was also kept on the bench at times by a fractured right foot, a strained right calf and a cyst behind his left knee.

Montero, 21, has yet to play in his first Major League game, but he has long been regarded as one of the game's elite prospects -- even anchoring the Yankees' package in a proposed July trade for left-hander Cliff Lee, who was then with the Mariners.

Instead, Montero spent the entire year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, batting .289 with 21 home runs and 75 RBIs in 123 games. As a reward, he was invited to spend a homestand with the Yankees in September, though he was not on the active roster.

"For four years working in the Minors, I'm finally here. Now I want to work hard to stay here all the time," Montero said then.

Montero figures to share his Grapefruit League innings behind the plate with Francisco Cervelli and fellow prospect Austin Romine, both of whom are generally regarded as being more polished defensively.

But the Yankees will give serious looks to Montero to determine if he is ready to be their Opening Day catcher.

"I do have people who believe he's Major League ready at the catcher's position, with a tremendous offensive bat," Cashman said recently. "But nothing gets handed to somebody. You have to take it and earn it.

"He'll have a chance to come to Spring Training and fight for something, and he'll either show he is ready for something at a higher level or not."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.