Posada makes spring debut

March 15, 2009 4:28:04 PM PDT
Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and the New York Yankees had a big day. Posada caught for the first time since right shoulder surgery last July, and Pettitte threw three scoreless innings in New York's 5-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

"It was good to see him back there," said Pettitte, who allowed two hits. "A good day for me. I got through three innings, got through it healthy and I felt good."

Posada played four innings behind the plate, but didn't have a baserunner attempt a steal against him. He had been limited to designated hitter duties before Sunday.

"I was really looking forward to catching," Posada said. "I felt surprisingly good. I just hope next time somebody steals and I'll throw the ball down there and see how it feels."

Twins starter Glen Perkins gave up three runs and five hits over three innings. The left-hander's calf was bruised when it was struck by Hideki Matsui's broken bat, but the play resulted in an inning-ending grounder in the third.

"He's fine," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was going to go back out, but he said it really stung. That was enough once you get hit."

Perkins kept the bat, which Gardenhire said was later signed by Matsui.

Nick Blackburn allowed one hit in two scoreless innings of relief for the Twins. He will return to a starting role in his next outing.

Posada played in just 51 games last season. He underwent season-ending surgery on July 30.

"You can't replace him," Pettitte said. "He's probably one of the best catchers the last 10 years. His presence in the dugout - he brings a lot to this club."

New York manager Joe Girardi said he would be "ecstatic" if Posada could play 120 games this season.

Posada is set to catch again on Tuesday.

"It's good we got to this day," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "This is an important step. He had major surgery. There are many more steps to go."

Minnesota general manager Bill Smith had no update on Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who saw a doctor in Baltimore on Saturday to get a second opinion on his ailing back.

Mauer, the two-time American League batting champion who hit .328 last season, has not played at all in spring training. He had surgery on Dec. 22 to remove a blockage from his kidney.

The pain has not affected Mauer's catching or hitting, but has prevented him from running.

Mike Redmond or a young catcher could fill the void should Mauer not be ready for opening day.

"You're dealing with Joe Mauer, so you know we're not going to fill those shoes," Gardenhire said. "We'll just have to see what we're dealing with."

New York second baseman Robinson Cano (right shoulder tendinitis) and left-hander Damaso Marte (left shoulder inflammation) had their MRI exams rescheduled for Monday.

Cano did not throw before the game, but fouled out as pinch hitter in the eighth.

"The players feel they are fine," Cashman said.

Doug Bernier, who started at second for the Yankees, departed with lower left leg tightness after Twins second baseman Luke Hughes made a hard slide attempting to break up a double play.

Hughes was back in the lineup after being out with a stomach virus.

Notes: Cashman said 3B Alex Rodriguez (right hip surgery) is no longer using crutches and has increased his rehab program in Vail, Colo. "He's feeling really good," Cashman said. A-Rod is expected to be out until sometime in May. ... Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (right shoulder surgery) felt fine one day after a 40-pitch batting practice session, and remains scheduled to pitch for the first time this spring on Tuesday. ... Twins INF Nick Punto, who has swelling in his right elbow due to getting hit by a pitch in the World Baseball Classic, might play Monday or Tuesday. "The trainers have the last say in that," Gardenhire said. ... The Yankees optioned RHP Ian Kennedy to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. RHPs Christian Garcia and Mark Melancon, Cs Kyle Anson and Jesus Montero, and INFs Kevin Russo and Juan Miranda were reassigned to minor league camp... Because there is no DH for the Yankees' road game against Houston on Wednesday, RHP Chien-Ming Wang might pitch in a minor league game instead. Wang missed the final 3½ months last season after hurting his foot running the bases in an interleague game last June against the Astros.