Joe Girardi is making a gutsy call behind the plate for the New York Yankees.Preparing for his first playoff series as a manager, Girardi confirmed Tuesday that light-hitting backup Jose Molina will catch A.J. Burnett during the post-season.
That probably puts longtime Yankees star Jorge Posada on the bench when Burnett pitches, because Girardi said Hideki Matsui "is probably going to be our DH most of the time."
Burnett is slated to start Game 2 in the best-of-five first round Friday night, and then a potential Game 5. Both games would be at Yankee Stadium.
"I just hope we win that game. That's it. That's all I've got to say," Posada said.
Inconsistent in his first season with the Yankees, Burnett went 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA and .270 opponents batting average in 16 starts with Posada behind the plate. The hard-throwing righty was 5-2 with a 3.28 ERA and .221 opponents batting average in 11 starts with Molina catching, according to STATS LLC.
"The playoffs are a lot about pitching, and we just thought since they're in a good rhythm, we're going to keep them working together," said Girardi, a former major league catcher. "When a pitcher and a catcher get in a rhythm, you hate to break it up. And that's kind of the feeling that we have going now."
During the season, there were rumblings that Burnett didn't like throwing to Posada, who batted .285 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs. A defensive standout, Molina hit .217 with a home run and 11 RBIs in 138 at-bats.
Girardi broke the news to Posada on Sunday.
"Not like I didn't see it coming," Posada said. "It's the manager's decision."
Andy Pettitte will start Game 3 for the Yankees and Joba Chamberlain will work out of the bullpen in the first round. Relief pitcher Brian Bruney will be left off the division series roster.
Girardi said the club is asking Bruney, right-hander Sergio Mitre and reserve infielder Ramiro Pena to go to the team's complex in Tampa, Fla., to keep working out in case they are needed later in the post-season.
BUMMER FOR BRUNTLETT: Eric Bruntlett, who scored the winning run in the World Series clincher for the Phillies last year, was left off the post-season roster.
Bruntlett batted just .171 (18 for 105) with no homers and seven RBIs. The versatile utilityman was playing second base when he became the second player in major league history to have a game-ending unassisted triple play, preserving a 9-7 victory over the New York Mets on Aug. 24.
The Phillies chose to keep veteran Miguel Cairo instead of Bruntlett. Cairo spent most of the season at Triple-A, but played well in a limited role. He hit .267 (12 for 45) and had a homer and triple in the regular-season finale.
Bruntlett pinch ran for Pat Burrell after he doubled in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the World Series against Tampa Bay. He scored on Pedro Feliz's single and the Phillies beat the Rays 4-3.
Bruntlett also scored the winning run in Game 3. He was hit by pitch leading off the ninth inning and scored on Carlos Ruiz's infield single to win it.
J-ROLL THE FAN: Jimmy Rollins understands why fans are anxious to see their teams do well. He's the same way on NFL Sundays.
"When I watch the 49ers, I want them to score now," he said. "When things aren't going well, I'm like, 'What are you doing?' But it isn't as easy as it looks when you're not out there on the field."
Last year, Rollins got in trouble for calling Phillies fans "front-runners" in a television interview.
"When you're doing good, they're on your side. When you're doing bad, they're completely against you," he said.
Fans, though, never held a grudge against Rollins, who is one of the more popular players on the team.