NEW YORK — Jorge Posada apologized Sunday to Yankees manager Joe Girardi in a face-to-face conversation, saying he simply had a bad day that boiled over into a messy public spat with management.
“All the frustration came out,” Posada said. “It was just one of those days you wish you could take back.”
Posada was not in New York’s lineup against Boston lefthander Jon Lester, one night after the slumping star asked to sit out — the beginning of a bizarre saga that led to the Yankees contacting the commissioner’s office about possible recourse.
But by Sunday, the five-time All-Star was smiling and laughing in the clubhouse, appearing generally relaxed despite his .165 batting average.
“We had a nice conversation. We talked about being emotional and going through struggles and what defines who you are. He apologized and said, ‘I had a bad day,’ and I said, ‘I have had bad days, too,’” Girardi said. “‘I know it’s hard to struggle, but you’re going to get through this.’
“It wasn’t the typical Jorge Posada face. Yeah, he was a little emotional. I was emotional in there because he’s one of my guys. I feel for what he’s going through.”
During batting practice on the field, Posada hugged Alex Rodriguez and chatted with other teammates. Yankees captain Derek Jeter, one of Posada’s best friends, said the matter was resolved and he saw nothing wrong with what Posada did Saturday.
“It’s not the first time that someone has come out of the lineup,” Jeter said. “If you need a day, you need a day. … If I thought he did something wrong, I’d be the first to tell him.”
Girardi said as far as he knew, the team had not sanctioned the 39-year-old Posada. General manager Brian Cashman said he needed to speak with owner Hal Steinbrenner before a final decision would be made.
Cashman said he saw Posada near the batting cage and introduced him to Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. Posada told Cashman they needed to talk later.
“I said, ‘No problem.’ I’ll talk and obviously we’ll get this behind us as soon as we can. We’ve got to focus on the Red Sox, not each other,” Cashman said.
Andruw Jones was listed as the designated hitter Sunday night.
Before batting practice, a contrite Posada calmly answered a string of questions from reporters and then went out to hit with the other backups.
He said he was healthy enough to play — he had mentioned a stiff back after Saturday night’s game, but acknowledged Sunday that even though his back was bothering him, he used it as an excuse.
“Everything happens for a reason. You learn from it,” Posada said.
Even before the discord, Girardi planned to put Posada on the bench Sunday. The switch-hitter is 0 for 24 against left-handed pitchers this season and his batting average was the lowest for any player currently in the majors with at least 100 at-bats.
Before batting practice Saturday — when Posada was still slated to hit ninth against right-hander Josh Beckett — Girardi wouldn’t commit to staying with Posada against lefties.
Posada does have four hits in his last 12 at-bats. He has six homers and 15 RBIs this year, but hasn’t gone deep since April 23.
Struggling to adapt to his new role as DH, Posada was dropped to the No. 9 spot in the original lineup Saturday. A proud veteran and respected clubhouse leader, he said he put himself in that position and understood the move.
But about an hour before the game, Posada went into Girardi’s office and requested that he be removed from the lineup. He said he needed a night off to clear his head.
After the game, Posada said his back had stiffened up while taking practice grounders at first base, but also acknowledged that he feels “a little bit” disrespected by the team.
That’s where it got complicated, though.
Posada never mentioned to Girardi or Cashman that his back was bothering him. And the Yankees weren’t pleased that he didn’t play.
A person familiar with the discussion between Posada and the team told The Associated Press that he “refused” to play. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the situation was still not settled.
The person said the Yankees had been in contact with the commissioner’s office about a possible penalty. The Yankees could fine Posada one day’s pay — that would be $71,978 on his $13.1 million salary. If a player declines to play two days in a row, he could be put on the restricted list.
AP Sports Writer Howie Rumberg, AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker and AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.