Many Yankees fans have a good memory of the last time Javier Vazquez pitched in pinstripes. The 2nd half of the 2004 season wasn’t a good one for Vazquez. His time in the playoffs, not any better. The memory of former Yankee Johnny Damon, then in a Red Sox uniform, delivering a grand slam that broke Game 7 of the ALCS was the last image many fans still play in the back of their mind.
Unfortunately, many have forgotten about the first half of the 2004 season where he pitched like an All-Star. That being said, the right-hander is glad to be back and this time, with Andy Pettitte as a member of the Yankees roster.
If you weren’t aware, Vazquez has always admired Pettitte. Despite being located between the lockers of C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the newest member of the Yankees rotation was excited about a different locker.
But what most piques Vazquez’s interest is the locker a bit further to his left, the one belonging to Pettitte, a five-time World Series champion.
“I’ve always looked up to Andy from afar,” Vazquez said.
An idol, finally, within arm’s reach.
Vazquez had some attention of his own, however, as he received his own share of hellos from his new teammates. Those teammates had a lot of good things to say about the likely 4th man in the rotation.
“Right now, he’s at the peak of his career,” catcher Jorge Posada said. “We got a guy that takes a lot of pride in how he pitches. He’s been throwing 200 innings for a long time.”
And while we’re on the subject of pride, it seems Vasquez has some Yankees pride now that he’s back in the Bronx. After chalking up his last tenure in the Bronx as a “learning experience”, he’s ready for another run.
“It’s just the aura of playing with the Yankees, man,” Vazquez said. “It’s the most important franchise in baseball, maybe in the world. To get to play for a team like that, it’s a great feeling.”
Will he be able to repeat his numbers from the 2009 season…it’s unlikely, but let’s face it, he doesn’t have to in his role as a middle of the rotation/back of the rotation pitcher. The pressure from his first time in New York isn’t nearly at the same level now. Plus, he’s a much mature pitcher than the man who came to the Yankees six years ago.
With pitchers and catchers reporting today, we’ll find out sooner than later, won’t we?