Jorge Posada’s late scratch from the Yankees’ lineup shortly before a 6-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday at Yankee Stadium led to a night of speculation and disagreement over why he did not play.
Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports: “Around 6 o’clock, he came into Joe Girardi’s office and removed himself from the lineup. It’s not an injury situation. That’s all I can report right now.”
Later in the night, a message from the Twitter account of Posada’s wife, Laura, said: “Jorge loves being a Yankee more than anything. He’s trying his best to help his team win. Today, due to back stiffness, he wasn’t able to do that.”
Manager Joe Girardi gave his version of events in his postgame news conference:
Girardi: The conversation was really short. Jorgie came into my office and said that he needed a day – he couldn’t D.H. today. And that was basically the extent of the conversation.
Reporter: Is the back something that you understand to be an issue at all? He did tell us he saw a chiropractor. He did not indicate he was with the trainers.
Girardi: I was not made aware of his back in our conversation, or today at any point.
Reporter: Joe, do you consider Posada’s action today insubordination?
Girardi: I’m not going to talk about this much. This is a situation obviously we will take care of. You know players go through difficult times in this game. We all do. And sometimes we need days to clear our head and just to take a deep breath. I’ve been there, I’ve been through struggles, and this season has been a struggle for Jorgie. It has been. And he has tried to fight through it, and today he just felt like he needed a day.
Reporter: Are you prepared to play him tomorrow, or are there certain hurdles that need to be jumped in order for that to happen?
Girardi: As I said, we’ll make a lineup tomorrow, and as far as commenting on that, I don’t have a comment right now.
Reporter: Joe, did he indicate to you that the reason he needed to clear his head in any way was because he was insulted that he was hitting ninth?
Girardi: No. He never told me that.
Reporter: What was your initial reaction to hearing, “Need to clear my head?” How did you take that?
Girardi: That he needed a day. His struggles have been tough on him. As I said, I’ve been through struggles that seemed extremely difficult in my career. Jorgie has always been a guy who wore his emotions on his sleeve, plays with a lot of passion and a lot of fire. Today, he just felt like he needed a day.
Reporter: In the middle of a series, in the middle of a stretch where you’ve been struggling, and against a tough team, did you take this any other way? That he was quitting on you in any way, or anything like that?
Girardi: As I said, I’m not going to get into this a lot. Sometimes you want to sleep on things, you talk the next day. He told me he needed a day. If a guy tells me he needs a day, I’m going to give him a day.
Reporter: Joe, you said the conversation was very short. It doesn’t seem typical of you just to let something like that go without a conversation with a player. In that sense, it seems like it had something to do with hitting ninth or something else you disagreed on.
Girardi: I’m going to tell you again what he told me. He told me he needed a day. That he couldn’t be the D.H. today. He made no reference to hitting ninth, he made no reference to his back. I took it that he needed a day off mentally. If a guy tells me he needs a day off mentally, you’re not sure what you’re going to get that day if you put him in there. So, I went with another guy. And thought I’d give him a day off mentally.
Reporter: It just seems strange that you wouldn’t bring him into conversation on that.
Girardi: This conversation didn’t take place three or four hours before the game. That’s part of the issue. I have to make changes. I have to tell people they’re in the lineup. It’s final preparation for a game. We have to get lineup cards out. It was a late conversation.
Reporter: In your three-plus years as manager here, has a noninjured player ever asked for a mental health day?
Girardi: Guys have told me they’ve needed a day. Now, was it physical or mental? No one has ever made that sort of statement. But you can take it as a guy just mentally needs a day off.
Reporter: Joe, I think it was just a week ago where you had a heart to heart with Jorge after one of those games. Where do you think he’s gone in that last week from your standpoint?
Girardi: Frustration, continued frustration, Sweeny. As I said, when you look up (at the scoreboard) and your average is in the 100s, it’s tough. I’ve been there. It’s tough to look at that. And for a guy who has had so much success in his career and so many big hits for this organization, it’s tough. And sometimes you need a day to clear your head. And as I said, Jorge is a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve, and I said O.K., and I went to work, I started preparing the other guy to play. I had to do things and … it happens.
Reporter: Because of the stature of this guy in the organization, I mean he’s one of your remaining core three players, do you give him wider berth than you might be for somebody else?
Girardi: I try to be sensitive to my players. I’ve been through struggles in my life. I’ve been through death in the family, I’ve been through a lot of things where there are days where it was tough for me. And I try to be sensitive to my players’ feelings because we’re human beings. And, you know, the last time I ever played a game I cried like a baby. Am I ashamed of that? No. It’s hard. It’s hard when you get older in this game. There is no doubt about it. And when you’re struggling and you’re older, people start to question, can you do it anymore? And that’s hard for a player to hear. So I try to be sensitive to all my players.
When they’re young, they say, can a player do it at all? And for a young kid that’s talented, that can be tough to listen to. So I try to be sensitive to them. I think sometimes people look at us as people that don’t necessarily have feelings because we go out there and play a game, and people get excited to watch the games and cheer for your teams. We have feelings and issues just like anybody else.
Reporter: Joe, one of the things Jorge acknowledged was he said he does feel a little bit disrespected here by the organization for several reasons, going back to losing his job behind the plate, or he didn’t say specifically being dropped to ninth, but he was asked if he feels at all disrespected. How do you respond to that?
Girardi: I didn’t hear him say that. So, for me to respond to that, I would have to hear him say that.
Reporter: Joe, does he have any need to address his teammates?
Girardi: As I said, let’s just take this a day at a time. As far as Jorge Posada, I’m done talking about Jorge. If we want to talk about the game, and us losing, I’ll talk about that. If not, I’m done.
After the game, Posada told reporters: “I told him I couldn’t play today. I needed time, first to clear my head. That was it. My back stiffened up a little bit. I was taking a lot of ground balls at first base and worked out, and I wasn’t 100 percent.”
When asked if retirement was at all in his mind, Posada said: “What?”
When the reporter said retirement again, Posada just laughed and said no.