Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a calculated move Saturday in an effort to protect Javier Vazquez’s confidence, bumping the righty from his next scheduled start.
Vazquez pitched a solid seven innings of two-run ball last Wednesday against the Tigers and was in line to take on either the Red Sox or Rays this week. But Girardi made the decision Saturday to have the struggling starter avoid both high-powered offenses. Vazquez, 33, will take on the Mets at Citi Field on Friday instead. From the Newark Star-Ledger:
“We talked amongst ourselves and discussed it,” Girardi said Saturday. “I know
Javy wants to pitch. But that was what we thought was the right
decision at this time.”
Some Yankees fans might want to call it “babying,” but this is a smart move for both the club and Vazquez himself. He is 1-4 this year with an 8.10 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP over six starts and the Yanks continue to battle for the top spot in the American League East with Tampa Bay. They need their best starters on the mound right now and Vazquez — for the time being — is not one of them.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉