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Vazquez asks to throw early

As of Saturday no pitcher was scheduled to throw a bullpen Sunday, with A.J. Burnett supposed to throw the next one on Monday.

But Javier Vazquez asked pitching coach Dave Eiland to change things up.

“I’ve been throwing in Puerto Rico, a few bullpens, and it’s been like a week and a half since I threw my last bullpen so I wanted to get a feel for it again,” Vazquez said. “They said if you want to throw one of these days, no big deal and I told them I would love to throw today.”

Jorge Posada, who caught Vazquez in 2004, said the pitcher has added a slider. Or at least is more prepared to use it.

“He had it but he didn’t use it much," Posada said.

Posada said it's an advantage having caught Vazquez earlier in his career.

"It’s easy for me to call his games because he has four outstanding pitches, you don’t go wrong with [any] of the pitches when you call them,” Posada said. “The timing of everything now is a lot better.”

Joe Girardi has high expectations for Vazquez, who has pitched 200-plus innings nine of the last 10 seasons.

"If you can get 1,000 innings out of your rotation, your rotation's doing its job and your bullpen is not going to get overworked and that’s a real good thing," Girardi said. "Javy has shown he can throw 200 innings and he can bounce back, and he’s been pretty durable as a starter."

*** The towering Andrew Brackman, who had a rough 2009 in Charleston (2-12 with a 5.19 ERA and a staggering 76 walks), threw his first bullpen of the spring with Girardi paying close attention.

"He looked good," Girardi said. "He was down in the zone all day today which is encouraging. I think his mechanics are cleaner. I thought he had a pretty good bullpen session today. And that’s encouraging. And he’s had some physical ailments he’s had to deal with. This is not an easy game. And when you’re 6-11, there’s a lot that can go on mechanically that some of the shorter guys don’t have to deal with."

*** Zach McAllister, who had an outstanding 2009, threw in front of Girardi as well.

"He has a very good sinker, very good command of his fastball," Girardi said. "Nice downhill plane that he has. So far he’s looked good, too."

*** Posada on Johnny Damon signing with the Tigers: "We’re going to miss the guy in the clubhouse and on the field. A professional guy and a guy that was really key for us throughout the years and especially last year.”

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