Monday, March 27, 2006

Posada Returns to Spring Training With two black eyes and a tender nose, Jorge Posada returned to the scene of the crime.

It was just four days ago that the catcher took a ball off his face while playing catch with Kelly Stinnett, fracturing his nose in the process. He spent Thursday and Friday at home, coping with the headaches that accompanied the injury, but he felt well enough to rejoin his teammates on Sunday at Legends Field.

"I was playing catch, and I remember seeing another ball of the guy who was playing catch next to me," Posada said, recounting the incident. "I thought that ball was mine, so I went to catch it. When I looked back, the ball was already there.

"It's one of those freak accidents that happened."

Posada took part in the team's workout before Sunday's game against Detroit, taking batting practice, but he isn't expected to return to game action until Tuesday or Wednesday.

"I just need a couple more at-bats," he said. "My biggest thing is getting behind the plate, not at the plate. I want to get back there, feel the ball off the mask."

Whether he is behind the plate for the season-opener on April 3 remains to be seen. Posada has caught just seven of Randy Johnson's 24 1/3 innings this spring, with Kelly Stinnett handling the other 17 1/3.

Joe Torre has said that he will not stay away from using Posada and Johnson together, unlike the second half of 2005, when John Flaherty served as the left-hander's personal catcher.

Posada believes he will be ready for the opener, which takes place a week from Monday. Torre said this week that if he's healthy, Posada would be his Opening Day catcher, but the manager told Posada not to rush if he doesn't feel he'll be ready.

Posada will have the splints removed from his nose on Monday, then visit an ophthalmologist to make sure his vision is 100 percent. His left eye was very swollen after he was hit by the ball, but he said he hasn't had any problems with his vision since Thursday.


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