One of most productive switch-hitting catchers of our generation, Jorge Posada, is critical of his former skipper and ballclub in his new book The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes.
Posada, 43, is four years removed from his retirement from the game of baseball. A career in which the San Juan, Puerto Rico native posted numbers of a.273 batting average, 275 HR, and 1065 RBI in 1829 career games with 1,574 of those games spent as a catcher.
As transcribed from Posada’s book by the New York Daily News, Posada’s demotion from full-time catcher to designated hitter in his last season was a bitter ending.
“I’ll put this as plainly as a I can, When you take me out from behind the plate, you’re taking away my heart and my passion.”
A stint with the New York Yankees that lasted for the better part of 17 years yielded five World Series victories for both Posada and the team. However, his skills as a catcher were constantly questioned, as despite having a strong throwing arm, Posada’s blocking, pitch framing, and other skills that are important for catchers were doubted.
In Posada’s view, he could understand that his role with the team was experiencing a change, but he doesn’t believe that anybody in the organization understood how much it hurt him.
“I knew that my role with the club was changing, but I don’t think that anyone making those decisions knew how much the things being done hurt me.”
It even went as far as the team not allowing Posada to catch in the bullpen. Unfamiliar territory for Posada as the former second baseman spent nearly two decades as a backstop, making that type of change difficult to accept.
“To have even that taken away from me without adequate explanation, hurt me and confused me.”
From his debut in 1996 to 2008, Posada only knew one man as his manager, that man being Joe Torre. Torre led the Yankees to four World Series and a playoff birth every season he was at the helm. But when Torre left and Joe Girardi took over, the change was too drastic.
Whereas Torre was seen as a “father-figure,” Posada states that Girardi came in as “just a manager.” In fact, being texted by Girardi and told what his role on any particular day was unfamiliar territory and “it was a tough adjustment for me to make,” Posada writes.
The most publicly tumultuous moment during Posada’s days playing for Girardi came in 2011 when he took himself out of the lineup. Posada became the recipient of a plethora of deragotory remarks and he claims that he simply exploded from all the anger he held inside.
“I felt like I wasn’t being treated right, that people weren’t always being as straightforward with me as I wanted them to be or treating me as I deserved to be treated, and I exploded.”
Although he wasn’t sure if had played in his final game, the moment Posada realized his career was over, it became a moment filled with tears and an understanding of being completed with his journey.
“I had no idea how heavy finality can be, I went down on my knees as if something incredibly heavy was crushing me. I put my head on the ground and wailed, shoulder-heaving sobs tearing at me.”
[Image by Nick Laham/Getty Images North America]