Yankees put Posada on the DL

May 5, 2009 9:41:52 PM PDT
Jorge Posada was a durable staple in the Yankees' lineup for a decade. Now, New York is growing accustomed to trying to win without him. Posada was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained right hamstring that is expected to sideline the All-Star catcher for two to three weeks.

It was a frustrating blow to the Yankees and Posada, who toiled through months of a strenuous rehab program to get ready for this season. He missed most of last year due to a right shoulder injury that required surgery.

"This is tough on me because I worked really hard to be here," Posada said. "Just one of those things that you can't control, and you try to stay positive. But it's not easy."

The five-time All-Star was injured while sliding into second base during Monday night's 6-4 loss against the Boston Red Sox. He tweaked the same hamstring earlier in the season, missing a couple of late April starts in Detroit, but avoided the DL.

"This one's lower," said Posada, who had an MRI exam Tuesday.

To fill his roster spot, New York recalled catcher Francisco Cervelli from Double-A Trenton. Regular backup Jose Molina takes over as the team's starting catcher, a role he filled admirably while Posada was injured last season.

Molina provides a defensive upgrade, but Posada's offense and leadership will be missed. On a team full of stars, Posada is arguably the Yankees' most indispensable player.

"It's tough. He's one of the guys who knows how to win," teammate Johnny Damon said. "He's been getting some key hits for us lately. We're definitely going to miss his bat, miss his presence, and we just have to keep going."

The 37-year-old Posada was off to an excellent start, batting .312 with five homers and a team-leading 20 RBIs. He thinks it's too early to tell whether he'll be able to come off the DL as soon as he's eligible.

"Hamstrings can be tricky," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

"I guess if you look at the positive side of it, at least he didn't hurt his shoulder again."

Posada joined six other New York players on the disabled list, most of them key components. Star slugger Alex Rodriguez is expected back soon following March 9 hip surgery, perhaps by Friday.

"It's just another thing that we have to deal with as a club, and as a club you have to be resilient and find a way," Girardi said. "Fortunately, all the training tables are taken up. So maybe that's our limit. Maybe there won't be any more."

Posada got hurt on a chilly, damp evening in a game that was delayed more than two hours by rain at the start. Still, he doesn't think the weather had much to do with his injury.

"It just happened," he said.

Posada had never been on the disabled list before two stints last year, when he was limited to 51 games by a shoulder injury that sidelined him from July 21 to the end of the season. The Yankees finished 89-73 and missed a postseason for the first time since 1993.

Posada became a fixture in the lineup five years later. He played at least 137 games each season from 2000-07, a rare stretch of durability for a catcher.

Only Hall of Famers Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra have caught more games for the Yankees than Posada.

"We know we're going to get Alex back here in a few days. I think we weathered the storm pretty good with Alex's absence. Now we need to try to do it with Jorge being gone," Damon said.