Jorge Posada has handled his benching as the Yankees’ designated hitter about as well as possible, admitting yesterday that he’s “not happy with it” while adding that “I’m moving on and I’ll be ready to play whenever I happen to play.”
Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York asked Joe Girardi how he felt back in 1998, when a young Posada supplanted him as the Yankees’ starting catcher, and the manager replied:
I didn’t like it. I just kept working at it and trying to get better. As a player, that’s the only thing you can do. Be prepared, and when you get your chance, perform and be prepared.
Which is more or less the stance Posada is taking, although he indicated that Girardi gave him no assurances about reemerging with a significant role in the final season of a four-year, $52 million contract.
Prior to the benching Posada hit just .230 with nine homers and a .681 OPS in 90 games. For now Eric Chavez has replaced him as the Yankees’ primary DH, but given his long history of injuries and the presence of top prospect Jesus Montero waiting in the wings at Triple-A the position is in a state of flux.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.