Change certainly is possible, Joe Girardi said. The Yankees manager believes Javier Vazquez can turn his situation around completely, adding, "You can always rewrite the script." At the moment, though, the story always is the same and so are the reviews:
"Booooooooooo" said the crowd at Yankee Stadium when Vazquez allowed two home runs to Andruw Jones, when he walked Mark Kotsay with two on and no outs in the second, when Kotsay hit a two-run home run in the fourth and, loudest and longest, when he walked off the mound with no outs and a 5-1 deficit in the fourth.
Vazquez was not the pitcher of record Saturday in the Yankees' 7-6 loss to the White Sox. His team actually bailed him out and took the lead before relievers Dave Robertson and Damaso Marte coughed it up. Still, Vazquez was the pitcher of note with his lightning-rod 9.78 earned run average and poor standing with the home fans.
"I know I'm trying hard because I want to do good. All baseball players want to do good. I might be trying too hard, but it's because I'm trying to do good," Vazquez said after another familiar plot: five runs on seven hits and four walks and incalculable Bronx cheers.
So change really is possible. Could Girardi decide to bump the struggling righthanded pitcher, who is seen by Yankees fans as being stuck in the bad ending of 2004, from his next start at Fenway Park Friday? The manager didn't say yes, but he didn't say no: "There is no doubt about it, he's scuffling and we have to find a way to get him back on track, but my concern right now is on tomorrow and the next day."
His concern is based partly on Curtis Granderson's Grade 2 groin strain, which will put him on the disabled list Sunday. But the manpower shortage also is partly Vazquez-related inasmuch as the bullpen had to work six innings following his brief outing. It was a repeat performance.
Every time Vazquez goes out there, it is his shot at a clean slate. Yet every time, it seems, things get worse. Girardi referred to "mis-location" and said that was "99.9 percent mechanical."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who had Vazquez on his team in Chicago, said, "He's not throwing strikes. You can't do that, especially in the American League. They don't let you get away with mistakes in this league."
They also don't let you use a two-toned glove. Umpires forced Vazquez to switch before the third inning.
"I've been using the same glove for three or four years. It caught me off guard, but it had nothing to do with how I did out there," the pitcher said. Nor did he consider the catcalls unfair. "When you do bad, you expect to get booed," he said.
The definitive drama Saturday occurred in the sixth, when Nick Swisher's two-run homer to right put the Yankees ahead, and the seventh, when A.J. Pierzynski hit the decisive two-run double. But the melodrama was all Vazquez.
"He's going through a rough time but Javy's going to be fine. Everybody in here has got his back," Swisher said.
Mark Teixeira said, "I don't know one player in the history of baseball who hasn't gone through struggles. He's going to turn this around. We all have faith in him."
"It's not a good feeling, I'll tell you that," Vazquez said. "But I've struggled before. I have to keep working at it, every aspect of the game. I promise everybody that I'm going to keep working hard at it and battle through it."