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Notes: Molina a backup upgrade

New addition makes Torre's decision to rest Posada easier
08/12/2007 3:16 PM ET
By David Briggs / MLB.com
CLEVELAND — Scratching Jorge Posada from the lineup for a third straight game Sunday was an easy decision for Yankees manager Joe Torre.

Jose Molina made it so.

The backup catcher, acquired from the Angels in a July 21 trade, has shown to be quite the upgrade over Wil Nieves. Not only has he adeptly handled New York's pitching staff -- the Yankees have allowed just four runs in the 32-year-old's three starts -- but he's flaunted a steady bat as well.

Evidence Molina's career-high four hits in Tuesday's barrage.

"Who knows?" Torre said. "Before he got here, we may have tried to force Jorge back in there."

As it stands, Posada was penned into the lineup Sunday, but was scratched when he still had limited movement in his neck upon arriving to the park. Torre said Posada should be able to return Monday night.

Yet Torre also knows there no reason to push it. Not with Molina.

"He's enormously important," Torre said. "Backup catchers are so tough to come by. We're lucky that we had an opportunity to get Jose."

Is it nice to already have that confidence from the manager?

"Of course," Molina said. "Coming from him, that makes me feel good."

'Pen shortage: The Yankees' bullpen may as well have been a trio short Sunday afternoon.

Jim Brower missed his second straight game to be with his wife after the birth of the couple's first child, while Joba Chamberlain and Jeff Karstens were unavailable.

Chamberlain, following a strict plan laid out by the Yankees' front office, cannot pitch again until Monday following his two-inning effort Friday. For every inning the 21-year-old sensation throws, he will be given a day of rest. So if Chamberlain tossed three innings, a possibility Torre left open, the right-hander would be given the next three days off.

"That's the formula [the front office] has given us," Torre said. "That's based on the fact that he's going to be a starter and this is the safe thing to do."

As for Karstens, Torre still plans to plug him into Tuesday's starting vacancy. The manager said would not turn to Karstens on Sunday unless an extreme extra-innings scenario came up.

Youth is welcome: Andy Pettitte never felt entirely welcome when he first came up to the Yankees as a 22-year-old rookie in 1995.

Contrast that to today's clubhouse, and, well, "it's just different," according to the Bombers left-hander.

"We make the guys feel a little more comfortable," Pettitte said. "I don't even think you can compare it to how it was back then."

And whether this comes from a clubhouse invigorated by the energy of Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano or the club's increasing reliance on young talent, the Bombers' gang of green players agree.

"Everyone's been great," said Chamberlain.

Said rookie outfielder Shelly Duncan: "The best feeling you can have is when you step into a situation where the guys support you. The guys here root for you. They want you to do your job to help them win. The respect and encouragement they give you, that's just a great feeling."

Clemens to return Saturday: Roger Clemens' slot in the rotation will essentially be skipped, meaning the 45-year-old right-hander will likely return to the mound Saturday.

Clemens, who is eligible to return from his five-game suspension Wednesday, would be working on nine days' rest.

"It's not going to hurt him," Torre said.

Yanks extras: After hitting a trio of homers over the first two games of the series, Alex Rodriguez admitted to feeling far more relaxed since clobbering career homer No. 500. "No question," he said. "It's good to get that 500th home run out of the way and get back to playing real baseball." ... New York's domination over Cleveland has far transcended this season. Since 1992, the Yankees are 89-49 against the Tribe in regular-season play. In fact, the last time the Indians have taken a season series from the Yankees was 1992. ... Derek Jeter's .388 average at Jacobs Field is the highest all-time average (minimum 100 at-bats) in the park's 14-year history.

On deck: The Bombers head home to open up a three-game set with the Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Monday night at 7:05 ET. Chien-Ming Wang (13-6, 3.94 ERA) will be opposed by Baltimore right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (7-4, 3.22 ERA).

David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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