Jorge Posada claims to have back injury, still in the wrong

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This thing is officially a mess, but we’re going to try to lay out all the different reports and go from there.

Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada removed himself from Saturday night’s lineup against the rival Red Sox, telling manager Joe Girardi an hour before game time that he “needed a mental day” of rest. At least, that’s how Girardi put it in his postgame press conference. A report that surfaced around the third inning from the YES Network’s Jack Curry told quite a different tale:

According to person briefed on Posada’s exchange with Girardi, Posada told mgr he was “insulted” about hitting 9th and “threw a hissy fit.”

Posada is now claiming to have a stiff back — a result of taking pregame infield practice at first base — but did not inform Girardi of the ailment during their pregame conversation.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made his way to the press box around the fourth inning to discuss the matter but did not divulge much information, saying that he “didn’t want to speak for” the 39-year-old designated hitter and that he had no knowledge of any sort of injury. Reports followed stating that Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner was “in contact with Bud Selig’s office” regarding Posada’s refusal to play.

There aren’t two sides to this story. There are several. But in each one of them Posada looks like a complete clown. He either refused to play on Saturday night against the Red Sox because he felt slighted at being dropped to the ninth spot in the lineup — a preposterous attitude considering his lofty $13.1 million salary and current offensive struggles — or he’s actually injured and didn’t bother to tell anyone.

Whatever the case, it’s on Posada to patch things up. Either with a public apology or closed-door meeting with Girardi and Cashman, an apology must be issued so that the situation can blow over.

Posada is batting just .165 with a .621 OPS in 33 games this year. On a team full of aging DH types like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Andruw Jones, the guy is far more expendable than he might think.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.