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Posada planning to contribute off bench

Posada plans to contribute off bench

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NEW YORK -- The last time Jorge Posada did not start in the playoffs was Oct. 7, 2005, when then-manager Joe Torre decided that backup John Flaherty was better suited to catch Randy Johnson in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Angels.

He was wrong.

Johnson served up five earned runs in just three innings, and the Yankees wound up losing both the game and the series.

"I don't really remember much," Posada said of that day. "I know I came into the game after Randy was out of the game."

Current Yankees manager Joe Girardi is now at risk of watching his team suffer a similar fate. His decision to use Jose Molina over Posada in Friday's Game 2, a choice that noticeably rankled Posada, will undoubtedly face scrutiny if A.J. Burnett does not pitch well.

"This is a gutsy decision," Flaherty told MLB.com. "If it doesn't work out, he's going to catch a lot of heat for it."

Then again, there's a fair chance it may work. Consider Girardi, who was the personal catcher for both Andy Pettitte and David Cone in the 1998 postseason. Pettitte finished that October 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA. Cone was even better, going 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA.

Girardi, in those seven games, hit just .238. But that was hardly the point. The Yankees won five of the games and, of course, the World Series.

And Posada has no choice but to draw on such histories as justification for his benching.

"I'm not jumping with joy here, but I accept it," Posada said. "A.J. and Jose are going well. I haven't caught A.J. in a while.

Division Series
Gm. 1NYY 7, MIN 2WrapVideo
Gm. 2NYY 4, MIN 3 (11)WrapVideo
Gm. 3NYY 4, MIN 1WrapVideo

"It's all about the team right now. It's not about me. It's about everybody together."

More than likely, Posada will come off the bench on Friday, as he did in that 2005 game that Flaherty started. But it is imperative that he block out whatever disrespect he is feeling and focus on the task at hand.

Consider the cautionary tale of Flaherty, who watched Wednesday's Game 1 and wondered whether Posada's two passed balls may have been a reflection of his state of mind.

"Knowing Jorge like I do, he's a prideful guy," said Flaherty, who played alongside Posada for three seasons. "He plays with a lot of passion. And I'm sure he had some demons going through his head [Wednesday] night, because this situation has caught a lot of attention. But you know what? You can't have miscommunication in the first playoff game of the Division Series. CC Sabathia and Jorge have worked together all year. Those are mistakes that just can't happen."

Posada, for his part, said he will prepare for Friday's game as if he were starting. Eventually, Burnett will leave the game and the Yankees will allow Posada to pinch-hit for Molina. About the only way that scenario wouldn't take place is if Burnett is throwing a gem -- an outcome that Posada certainly wouldn't mind.

This whole situation came about due to some midsummer miscommunications between Posada and Burnett, a situation that boiled over during a late-August blowout loss in Boston. Burnett, upset at Posada's pitch selection, appeared to lash out on the mound after Posada's repeated calls for pitches other than curveballs.

In 16 starts throwing to Posada, Burnett held opposing batters to a .270 average, going 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA in those games. In 11 starts with Molina, Burnett was 5-2 with a 3.28 ERA, with opposing batters hitting just .221 off him.

Realizing the rift, and realizing that hitters were faring far better against the Burnett-Posada battery than Burnett-Molina, Girardi opted to start his backup at catcher in each of Burnett's final six regular-season games.

Game 2 will make it seven straight, leaving Posada without a prominent role. Hideki Matsui will start at designated hitter, so that option is out. And it leaves Posada just one option.

"I can't do nothing about it," Posada said. "Just sit and watch the ballgame."

How a personal battery fares in the postseason
Since 1976, when a personal battery works together, its playoff record is 23-21; the team's record is 34-24 in such starts.
Year
Team
Pitcher
Catcher
Starts as battery
Playoff starter W-L
Team playoff W-L
1976PHISteve CarltonTim McCarver310-10-1
1977PHISteve CarltonTim McCarver360-11-1
1978PHISteve CarltonTim McCarver341-01-0
1979BALDennis MartinezDave Skaggs350-01-2
1989OAKBob WelchRon Hassey311-01-0
1990OAKDave StewartTerry Steinbach302-22-2
1990OAKBob WelchRon Hassey351-01-1
1991MINScott EricksonJunior Ortiz280-02-1
1993ATLJohn SmoltzGreg Olson300-10-1
1995ATLGreg MadduxCharlie O'Brien223-14-1
1996NYAAndy PettitteJim Leyritz272-14-1
1997BALScott EricksonLenny Webster292-02-1
1997ATLGreg MadduxEddie Perez311-21-2
1997HOUDarryl KileTony Eusebio270-10-1
1998HOUShane ReynoldsTony Eusebio290-01-0
1998ATLGreg MadduxEddie Perez321-11-1
1999NYAAndy PettitteJoe Girardi272-03-0
2001ATLGreg MadduxPaul Bako340-21-2
2001HOUShane ReynoldsTony Eusebio240-10-1
2002ATLGreg MadduxHenry Blanco311-01-0
2002ARIMiguel BatistaRod Barajas270-10-1
2003BOSTim WakefieldDoug Mirabelli322-12-1
2003ATLGreg MadduxHenry Blanco330-10-1
2004HOURoy OswaltRaul Chavez331-01-1
2004BOSTim WakefieldDoug Mirabelli300-01-0
2005BOSTim WakefieldDoug Mirabelli290-10-1
2007CLEPaul ByrdKelly Shoppach312-02-0
2007ARILivan HernandezMiguel Montero321-11-1
2007BOSTim WakefieldDoug Mirabelli270-10-1
2008BOSTim WakefieldKevin Cash300-10-1


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

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