Javier Vazquez doesn't feel the spotlight is on him. But after two poor outings to begin his second stint with the Yankees, it might not hurt that start No. 3 is taking place Tuesday night all the way across the country.
"I know I have a job to do," Vazquez said before the Yankees embarked on a nine-game road trip that begins Tuesday night in Oakland. "Sometimes you get off in a good groove, sometimes you get off in a bad groove. I got into my bad groove early, so hopefully, I'll get into a good groove later on."
The Yankees have withstood Vazquez's 9.82 ERA in two losing starts because the rest of the starting rotation has been in a very, very good groove - 7-0 with a 2.29 ERA. In games Vazquez hasn't started, the Yankees are 9-1.
But even if Vazquez doesn't feel the heat is on him, his fellow starters' near-perfect run through 12 games won't help take the heat off. He said he's shaken off the boos he heard at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and the eight runs he gave up at Tampa Bay on April 9.
Vazquez also said he's identified the culprit: too much adrenaline. He said he's gotten a little too wound up, which has made him rush through his delivery, which shifts his arm angle and makes his fastball far less effective.
"Last year [with the Braves], I played winter ball, I had the World Baseball Classic and I was very sharp in April," Vazquez said. "Usually, it can take a little bit to get going early in the season."
The home fans already have made their feelings known, but the work of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte - who have combined to go 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA and 1.09 WHIP - has allowed Joe Girardi to be patient with his fourth starter.
"You think about your first start of the season; no matter how many years you played, there's always some anxiety," Girardi said. "Then your first start back on your home field, you see how some guys react. I thought [Vazquez] threw better the second start, and I think that trend will continue."
Vazquez has been trying to work on his arm angle in his bullpen sessions with pitching coach Dave Eiland, with some success. But the problem is that the real problem - the adrenaline - isn't there in the bullpen.
"It's different than a game," Vazquez said. "I start rushing a lot. It's happened to me a lot, something I've done pretty much my whole career. But it's correctable. I just have to remind myself what I need to do."
There will be plenty of Yankees fans to remind him if Vazquez returns from the road trip without having solved his pitching woes.
Although Yankees fans still seem to have very strong memories of Vazquez's only previous Yankees season in 2004 - when he allowed a grand slam and two-run homer to Boston's Johnny Damon while pitching in relief in ALCS Game 7 - Vazquez remembers, too.
"When I was here in '04, they booed Jeter," Vazquez said.
That was the year Derek Jeter was batting .161 on April 28 after an 0-for-32 slide.
"Fans are fans,'' Vazquez said. "Once I get going and start pitching better, they're going to root for me."
Their first chance comes late Tuesday nightEast Coast time.