Nice day for the Yankees, who snapped their losing streak with a 7-5 win over the Phillies in Tampa and a 6-0 win over the Pirates in Bradenton. Much of the conversation afterward focused on Javier Vazquez, who had an eerily familiar beginning to his second tour with the Yankees – a first-pitch home run to right – but settled in and showed excellent command in striking out four over two innings.
Vazquez said a main difference between what he’s like now and what he was like in 2004 is that he used to be “a little stubborn” in sticking with his fastball too often. Now, he says, he’s mixing in curveballs and change-ups much more and that was obvious today. Vazquez struck out the side in the second and, earlier, showed a nasty change-up to Chase Utley, a pitch Joe Girardi said was “the best change-up I’ve seen all spring.” Vazquez also dropped down slightly to get Ben Francisco with a soft curveball.
“I still have the ability to throw my fastball in any count,” Vazquez said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to stay away from it.”
Jorge Posada estimated that Vazquez threw about 85 percent fastballs but, unlike A.J. Burnett who has stayed away from breaking balls so far this spring, Vazquez wants to work his entire repertoire. He threw 26 pitches in the game then tossed 10 more in the bullpen before finishing. I posted the audio of Vazquez’s interview below and it’s an interesting listen; he also talks about the different pressures of being a Yankee in 2004 (when he was trying to replace Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, etc.) versus how it is now, when he’s adding to a rotation that is already established. Check it out.
In other news, Francisco Cervelli’s tests came back clean and he’ll do some light baseball activity tomorrow. The Yankees will be careful, though; the earliest he’ll get in a game is probably Friday, Girardi said.
Just to update something from before: After consideration of the schedule, it now seems likely that Mariano Rivera will pitch in a game on the 16th, not the 17th — hardly a surprise considering the 17th is a road game.
And lastly, as we were heading out of Girardi’s office, he mentioned that the “second game begins in about 15 minutes.” By the time we got up to the press box, he was back on the field with his family, including son Dante wearing baseball pants and high socks.