Notes: Posada unfazed by contract talk

Notes: Posada unfazed by contract storylines

TAMPA -- Respect wasn't on Jorge Posada's mind as he completed his workouts on Tuesday. Neither was Mariano Rivera's contract status.

One day after the longtime Yankees closer insinuated that he might pitch elsewhere if the team did not offer him the respect he deserves in the form of a new contract, Posada noted that expiring contracts seem to be a trend.

In camp this spring around the Yankees, even manager Joe Torre is going into his own walk season.

"Everybody's in their final years, it seems like," Posada said. "We'll just go out there and play, really. We have a year left. We really don't have to talk about it until the offseason."

The 35-year-old Posada acknowledged the ever-present business end of the game, saying that he readily understands the ongoing storylines.

"It could happen with anybody," Posada said. "You hope that it won't happen to you, or to Mariano, or to anybody, but it just happens. That's the way baseball is. You've got to produce and do the things that keep you coming back."

Posada noted that if he remains healthy and has a good year, "everything will take care of itself." That wisdom may apply to other situations as well.

While the Yankees have declined to discuss contract matters with Rivera thus far, Posada believes that Rivera is a lock to return in pinstripes after this season. The Yankees may avoid negotiations through Spring Training to avoid potential distractions.

"It's just a matter of time," Posada said. "Obviously, we're going to get it done. It's up to [general manager Brian] Cashman and Mo. Mariano's going to be here forever."

With an unsettled reserve situation behind Posada, the Yankees are counting on the veteran backstop for another steady showing.

Posada batted .277 with 23 home runs and 93 RBIs in 143 games for New York last season. While he acknowledges it's not always easy for a catcher of advancing years to roll out of bed in the morning, Posada still feels he has plenty of production left to offer.

"It's a long season. It's tough," Posada said. "I'm not getting any younger, so I've just got to be a little wiser. Every once in a while, you wake up and something's hurting. That's just the way it is."

Adding an arm: Left-hander Ron Villone has agreed to a Minor League deal with the Yankees. Villone, 37, will compete for a spot in the bullpen, challenging 27-year-old Sean Henn to serve as a second lefty behind Mike Myers.

Villone was 3-3 with a 5.04 ERA in a career-high 70 appearances for the Yankees last season.

That's the Kei: Kei Igawa's transition to life in the United States is going "smoothly," the Japanese left-hander reports.

Igawa's first week in Tampa has been fairly non-descript, with his afternoons filled mostly by tossing sessions across the outfield at the Yankees' Minor League complex.

Igawa had been scheduled to throw his first bullpen of the spring on Monday, but it was pushed back to Thursday by rain.

"This is as I expected it," Igawa said through an interpreter. "I've been working hard, weight training and running."

Early in Tuesday's workout, Igawa stood off to the side of a bullpen mound and chatted with pitching coach Ron Guidry and bullpen coach Joe Kerrigan, discussing Igawa's ongoing adjustment to life in his new country.

Igawa said that he has not yet spoken with fellow teammate Hideki Matsui, who relayed a message to the hurler last month in time for Igawa's introductory Yankee Stadium press conference. Igawa said he would not hesitate to ask Matsui for advice as he continues to get acclimated to his new clubhouse.

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"If there's something I don't know," Igawa said, "I will ask him and try to be part of the team."

In the house: Tuesday marked the official report date for Yankees pitchers and catchers, though players are required to do little other than inform the club that they have reached Tampa.

A selection of hurlers checked into the clubhouse at Legends Field to drop off equipment during the early morning hours, including Brian Bruney, Chris Britton, Philip Hughes, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner and Myers.

Fashion statement: The Yankees' Spring Training jerseys have a different look this season. The new uniform tops are V-neck pullovers with one button near the collar, and a pair of thick white stripes running down the sides.

'Boss' sighting: Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner made an abbreviated public appearance on Tuesday, answering questions in short statements as he walked to a meeting.

Steinbrenner, 76, said that he was feeling "all right." Asked about his expectations for the team, Steinbrenner said, "We're going to be good," but deferred a question about Bernie Williams to Cashman before entering the closed Yankees clubhouse.

Chavez injured: Cashman said Tuesday that catcher Raul Chavez, a non-roster invitee to camp, broke his left hand in winter ball and will begin Spring Training in a cast.

Chavez, who turns 34 next month, had been in consideration to serve as Jorge Posada's backup this season. The Yankees have catcher Wil Nieves on the 40-man roster and, in addition to Chavez, have also invited backstops Francisco Cervelli, Ben Davis, P.J. Pillittere, Todd Pratt and Omir Santos to camp.

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