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Andruw Jones was the designated hitter Sunday night in place of Posada, hitless against left-handed pitchers this season.

Jones homered in his first at-bat, and high-fived Posada in the dugout. Posada then batted for Jones in the eighth against Bard, a right-hander.

Fans applauded when Posada was shown on the big video board before the game delivering his standard recorded greeting. In the first inning, one held a sign that read, “We Stand Behind Jorge.”

Before batting practice, a contrite Posada calmly answered seven minutes worth of questions from the media 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-handers 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.

Of course, it was Posada who gradually supplanted an aging Girardi as New York’s starting catcher in the late 1990s.

“I think the dynamic of the relationship is different because we shared a lot of things as teammates,” Girardi said. “Jorge was a more talented player and I had to move on. … Jorge has been a great Yankee. He has done so many wonderful things for this organization.”

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.

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