August 25, 2011
Among the many lessons learned from the New York Yankees' blowout win against the Oakland Athletics on Thursday afternoon was just how big of a lead manager Joe Girardi requires before he feels comfortable playing Jorge Posada(notes) at second base.
With the Yankees up 14 runs in the top of the ninth inning, Posada saw the field — only not at his familiar position of catcher, where he has caught 1,573 games in his career. And not at first base, where he's played in 11 games this season. Girardi needed someone to play second after pinch-hitting Francisco Cervelli(notes) for Robinson Cano(notes) in the bottom of the eighth.
So he chose Posada, who just turned 40 and began the season in a snit over not being allowed to catch anymore. These days, Posada probably just wants to play anywhere.
Originally, Girardi's plan was to keep Cervelli at catcher and move Russell Martin(notes) — who went 5 for 5 with two home runs and six RBIs in the Yankees' 22-9 rout — to second. But with the Yanks up 16-8 in the eighth, Posada made a deal with his manager.
"He said if we get two more runs, I'm going out there. I have him badgering me. I have K-Long badgering me," Girardi said. "But I think with everything that Jorge has done for this organization, the numbers that he's put up and the year that he's been through this year, it was just hard to say no."
The Yankees scored six runs in the inning, fulfilling Posada's terms for getting onto the field. After 1,812 major league games, he was at second base for the first time.
And, as the old baseball saying goes, the ball will find you.
On the final play of the game, Posada cleanly fielded a grounder, but probably was a little too keyed up to make a routine play. He wound up, as if he were a pitcher, and fired the ball into the dirt near first base, causing Nick Swisher(notes) to lose his balance as he picked the throw off the ground while trying to keep his foot on the bag.
But Swisher kept his foot on the bag, and Posada had his first major league putout as a second baseman. It wasn't graceful. Not even close. But it was fun to watch, and there were smiles all over the Yankees' infield after the play was made to end the ballgame. (Thanks to SB Nation's Jeff Sullivan, you can see the joy and exuberance in animated GIF form, too.) Everybody's happy when you win by 13 runs.
It wasn't the first time Posada had played the position in the Yankees organization. As a 19-year-old with their short season Class A team in Oneonta (N.Y.), he played 64 games at second base. It only took him 20 years to get back there.