Andrew Perna. 15th June, 2011 - 4:21 pm
Just a month ago it seemed as though Jorge Posada's storied career with the New York Yankees might come to an ugly end.
On May 14, with a Saturday night game against the rival Red Sox scheduled at Yankee Stadium, Posada asked out of the lineup after seeing that manager Joe Girardi had him hitting ninth.
The comments made during and after the game by Posada, Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman were both cryptic and pointed. It was all a matter of who you believed, because each of three painted a slightly different picture.
Nonetheless, there were rumors in the hours following that game, a 6-0 loss to Boston, that Posada's days in pinstripes were numbered. The catcher-turned-designated hitter was hitting just .165 and providing little for the team that he helped will to four World Series titles.
What a difference a month makes.
Since Posada asked out of the lineup, he is hitting .339, which has allowed him to raise his season average (.226) more than sixty points. The improvement is amazing, especially when you consider that he isn't playing everyday. He has 59 at-bats in the last month.
Conversely, Alex Rodriguez has 110 at-bats over the same period of time.
Posada began looking more comfortable at the plate in late May, but he has been perhaps the hottest hitter in all of baseball this month.
Entering Tuesday night's game against the Rangers, Posada was hitting .469 in nine games. He's been so hot that Girardi has sat him just twice this month.
He was in the lineup on Tuesday at first base because Girardi wanted to give Mark Teixeira a half-day off without taking away Posada's bat. The former catcher rewarded Girardi with two nice defensive plays in the first and a one-out double that helped kick-start a six-run second inning for the Yankees.
In addition to his higher average, Posada is also seeing the ball better. In the last month he has eight walks against ten strikeouts. From the season opener through May 13, Posada walked on 15 occasions while striking out an eye-popping 29 times.
The issue for Posada now is timing. The Rangers are scheduled to start left-handers on Wednesday and Thursday and then the Yankees will go on a six-game road trip to National League parks.
Posada hasn't started a game against a lefty since May 6 and there will be no designated hitter spot to put him in either Cincinnati or Chicago.
The question is -- can Girardi afford to keep him off the lineup card?