Posada loss big for Yankees

NEW YORK – Derek Jeter may be the captain, but Jorge Posada is the heart and soul of the team. For that reason and more tangible things like his clutch bat and his handling of the pitching staff, the Yankees will have to muddle through the next three weeks to a month without him.

The team recalled catcher Francisco Cervelli from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take Posada’s spot. Manager Joe Girardi said Jose Molina would work most of the games but that he would not catch seven days a week.

Posada had a Grade 2 strain of the right hamstring. He felt it while sliding into second base last night while DHing. Posada, who spent all offseason rehabbing from shoulder surgery that kept him out most of 2008, called the latest setback “disappointing.” Posada said he really wants to be there for his teammates and is disappointed he won’t be able to participate.

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Posda, 37, said the doctors told him it might “2-3 weeks” but given his age it could be longer. Posada didn’t know if he hurt himself because of the cold conditions but felt he did a lot of warming up to stay loose between at-bats. Posada had five homers in 77 at-bats and had been hot recently with six hits in his last nine at-bats and 10 hits in his last 25. He was 6 for 12 on the current homestand.

“I feel bad for him,” said Girardi. “He’s worked so hard. The positive side is he didn’t hurt his shoulder again. It’s disappointing he has to go through this again.”

In other Yankees news:

Girardi was still up in the air about when Alex Rodriguez would return but is still not ruling out Friday in Baltimore. He did say, “as long as it’s between now and May 15 it’s OK with us.” Girardi said he is encouraged by the recovery of Mike Lowell and Chase Utley with the Phillies and how they’re moving around. “One thing I asked the doctors is, is [A-Rod] limping? He wasn’t. When we played the Red Sox early in spring training and I saw Lowell, he was limping. It’s remarkable to see the progress he’s made since then.”

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Girardi said the Yankees desperately needed a win tonight.

“We need to find a way to win,” said Girardi. “Losing four in a row, we had a good chance to win three of them and we didn’t get it done.”

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