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58° Good Afternoon

Vazquez making an impression on Girardi

The Yankees' Jorge Vazquez (94) is high-fived by

The Yankees' Jorge Vazquez (94) is high-fived by teammate Jesus Montero after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning of Saturday's spring training game. (Mar. 12, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

VIERA, Fla. -- Jorge Vazquez started spring training a long shot to make the Yankees, and remains as such.

But the 5-11, 225-pound infielder, likely headed back to the minors, is giving the Yankees something to think about should they need some help down the road.

Vazquez, a non-roster invitee signed by the Yankees in December 2008, went 3-for-3 Saturday, including a homer, and drove in three runs in the Nationals' 6-5 victory. He's hitting .480 with a .500 OBP and .960 slugging percentage.

"This kid has shown he can hit," Joe Girardi said. "And he's hit every level he's been at, that's the bottom line. We know what he can do and he's shown us what he can do. He's been real consistent in his at-bats."

But with Vazquez being more of a natural first baseman than a third baseman and Eric Chavez healthy and hitting, the 28-year-old -- he turns 29 next week -- essentially is blocked from the majors.

Still, his spring training has been remarkable. "He's played really well for us," Girardi said. "He continues to do what he needs to do."

Igawa headed to Japan

Kei Igawa, whose hometown of Oarai was hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, was successful in reaching his family there and departed for Japan Saturday morning. The lefthander was given permission to leave the team's minor-league complex Friday morning to try to get in touch with his relatives, who the Yankees announced are OK.

Chavez stays back

Chavez was on the original travel roster to Viera, but Girardi nixed it.

"That was a mistake on my part," Girardi said. "Thinking about it, probably a 2-hour, 15-minute bus trip with his history [of injuries] wasn't a good idea, so I scratched him. That's silly to put him on a bus for 2:15 after he played yesterday."

Chavez is hitting .409 with a .458 OBP in eight games.

Wang trying to return

Girardi visited with Chien-Ming Wang, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009 with the Yankees, before the game. Wang, 30, non-tendered by the Yankees after the 2009 season, is trying to recover from a shoulder injury and pitch for the Nationals.

"It was great to see him," Girardi said. "You feel for him because I saw how great he was. A 20-game winner. This guy was something. I'm glad he's still at it. He's still young enough to get back and have some success, but I do feel for him."

Wang threw a bullpen session Saturday and felt no pain.


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