By Sweeny Murti
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Jorge Posada is back for his second year as a guest instructor at Yankees camp. With the exception of a few extra gray hairs, Posada still looks fit and in game shape. He enjoys time with his family now and recently spent time at the Yankees Women’s Fantasy Camp alongside his wife Laura.
I sat down with Jorge for a few minutes this weekend to talk about his role here. We also talked a little bit about his good friend, The Captain:
SM: How do you like being back here?
JP: I like it. Last year was a little strange. I didn’t know where to go. But this year I’m working a little more with the catchers. Gary Tuck is here (for his third tour with the Yankees as catching instructor) and he wanted me to come around and work with the young catchers, help him out a little bit and try to see what I see. (I’m trying to) make it easier for them to make that jump, whether it’s (Gary) Sanchez, (John Ryan) Murphy, (Austin) Romine, help them get to this level and stay here and make them understand what it takes to stay here.
SM: If there’s one of those guys that stands out to you, who is it?
JP: You know, everybody is so unique. I like what I see in Romine even though it’s only (my first) day, it seems like he wants it a lot more than he did two years ago. And that tells me that he worked hard, that tells me that he’s ready in his head, (thinking) that he belongs in the big leagues. Sometimes that feeling or that push from yourself makes you a better player and I’m looking forward to seeing that a lot more from him this year.
SM: It’s gotta be funny working with Gary Tuck. You were kind of his pet project, weren’t you?
JP: Yeah, me and Tuck were together for 12 years. He was amazing. There’s nobody better as a coach. As a coach of catching, Gary Tuck is probably number one.
SM: There are obviously a lot of young catchers here and this is Gary’s first year back. I would think that really helps the Yankees given what they have at the catcher position.
JP: Yeah, also having (roving catching instructor) Julio Mosquera here, he can take what Gary Tuck teaches the whole spring and teach it to the minor leaguers. So when the kids get up to the big leagues they have an idea of what it takes, what you need to do to be successful up here.
SM: Did you watch Derek’s press conference?
JP: I did.
SM: What did you think watching that?
JP: Uh … I saw a guy that is ready, obviously, to go home. He looked content with the decision that he made. You know, sometimes your body tells you that you can still play, no question about it. I could have played in 2012, I could have played probably last year. But your head tells you it’s time. And it’s true, you get to a certain time when you want to do other things, and I wanted to do other things. I was happy with everything he said.
SM: Derek got to do something you didn’t get to do, get out in front of it and say it was going to be his last year. Do you sense that was important to him?
JP: Yeah, I think for the fans. He probably did it a lot for the fans who come to see him play. I think he wants to tell the fans to “come out and see me for the last time, be a part of this.”
SM: He always looks like he has fun. But he also said that he didn’t take in as much over the years, that he wants to take the time to take in a lot this year. Do you think that’s true that maybe he didn’t appreciate everything as it was happening as much because he was busy doing it?
JP: Yeah it happens, especially in New York. You get caught up in the everyday thing, day by day of the grind of trying to be Derek Jeter. And I can see that it becomes your job and your responsibility to be Derek Jeter. He cares so much about this game that it’s tough for him to really take it all in and I think this gives him a chance.
SM: I thought it was kind of perfect the way you guys came up together, you shared the same hatred for losing that George Steinbrenner had.
JP: I think we were brought up the right way. The minor leagues were very, very important for us. The 1995 series (ALDS loss to Seattle three games to two) I think was the biggest thing. The way the guys felt, looking at Don Mattingly’s eyes after they lost, I didn’t want that feeling. And then we won in 1996. We lost in ’97, but then you win and you win and win (1998-2000) and you get used to winning. Not winning the World Series is a failure, so you get used to the winning and you want to do it every year. It really hurts when you have an important game, you have to win this game and we lose it or blow it in the ninth or something like that, that hurts. And that’s the kind of feeling I think everybody should have in that clubhouse.
SM: What is it going to mean to you to watch Derek this season?
JP: I hope he has a great year, kind of like Mo. I want the fans to really acknowledge what a great person and what a great player he’s been. He’s been devoted to being the captain of the Yankees for so long, and in the spotlight in New York, doing what he’s done I’m super happy that he’s going out, you know, he did it his way like Frank Sinatra would say. That should be his last song, “I Did It My Way.” I told him that, but I don’t think he’s going to do it though (laughs).
SM: Do you know what that moment is going to be like for him? You saw what Mariano’s moment was like.
JP: I don’t know. Derek is different than all of us. I don’t know if there’s going to be a tear. I would like to see him cry on the field (laughs). I don’t wish him to do it, but when that happens it tells you how big his heart is. And you saw it with Mariano last year and obviously when I had my press conference (in 2012) it’s just the way we like this game so much, it’s tough to go home.
SM: You had a wonderful career. Does part of you wish you had the moment on the field that Mariano had and that Derek’s going to have?
JP: I did. I had my moment in the field, during the playoffs and that last game when we clinched (the AL East) in New York, getting that base hit to clinch the game. I would never regret anything the way it happened. I’m happy the way everything happened.
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