Posada has positive attitude as full-time DH

Posada has positive attitude as full-time DH

TAMPA, Fla. -- Jorge Posada has been told to prepare for a summer as the Yankees' designated hitter, but he spent the first day of workouts in a more unofficial role -- that of assistant catching instructor.

That was why the 39-year-old Posada was roaming the right-field bullpen with a plastic bucket on Tuesday morning, scooping up baseballs as youngsters like Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine went through their batteries of drills.

When the catchers huddled to talk strategy and review pointers, Posada appeared to say nearly as many words as catching coach Tony Pena. Leaving catching might not have been Posada's choice, but he appears to be passing on as many pointers as he can.

"I'm just going to be there for them, keep working with them," Posada said. "I think we have a bright future. We're deep in catchers, that's one position that we're deep in. Hopefully sooner than later for some of these kids."

The Yankees are heading into the season with veteran Russell Martin as their starting backstop, though he signed after the team had already decided to move Posada from behind the plate.

Martin caught ace CC Sabathia's first bullpen session of the spring on Tuesday morning, a pairing that could be repeated on Opening Day, and Posada said he needs to use the spring to get more comfortable in his new DH role.

"I'm coming in with a positive mind," said Posada, who took batting practice on Tuesday. "I want to have a positive attitude toward everything. They want me to DH, I'll DH. That's the kind of mentality I want to [have]. I don't want to keep thinking about it. Whatever it takes."

While he is considered only to be a third-string, emergency option behind the plate for manager Joe Girardi, Posada will eventually participate in some catching drills and bullpen duty during Spring Training.

The Yankees are giving him extra time to recover from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, but Girardi won't rule out the idea of Posada seeing some innings behind the plate in a Grapefruit League game.

"We told him that he's our DH and Russell Martin is going to be our everyday catcher, but sometimes things happen that you can't necessarily predict," Girardi said. "We have that in our back pocket. I don't necessarily think he's going to forget how to catch overnight."

It was before that November procedure that general manager Brian Cashman visited Posada in a Manhattan hospital, informing him of the team's plans to have a different catcher in 2011. Posada said the news was hard to handle, but he'd also seen it coming.

"The team needed to keep looking at the future of the Yankees behind the plate, what's going to happen here," Posada said. "Obviously, we have a lot of young kids who are capable of doing a great job. I think they have a great future. Are they ready? I think that's the biggest question."

Girardi said that he suspected Posada would have some difficulty handing over the starting catcher's title, no matter who the eventual recipient would be.

"I know how much pride Jorgie has," Girardi said. "I know how much he loves to catch and be involved in every play of the game. He takes pride in that and he takes pride in his leadership, getting the most out of pitchers. That's a transition."

Posada is entering the final year of a four-year, $52.4 million contract with the Yankees and said that he has not yet decided if he will try to play beyond this season.

"A lot has to do with this year -- how I feel this year, how I come out after this season," Posada said. "I would like to stay healthy. I think DHing will help me. After the season, we'll see how my body responded the whole year and make the decision then. I'm happy with everything that's gone on."

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