Yes, Jimmy Rollins launching Javier Vazquez's first pitch out the yard no doubt brought back some bad memories for Yankees fans, but what happened after that was more significant.
Vazquez was excellent, striking out four of the last six batters he faced. The most impressive pitch might have been the 75-mph changeup that got Chase Utley in the first.
“That was as good a changeup as I’ve seen all spring,” manager Joe Girardi said.
“I was definitely happy with the way I threw today,” Vazquez said. “I threw all my pitches.”
All of which looked pretty good to Girardi.
“Great changeup today, pretty good curveball today, I liked what I saw,” Girardi said. “He’s got outstanding offspeed stuff as well as a good moving fastball. He’s just added to what he has. He can throw any pitch at any time.”
Jorge Posada, who caught Vazquez during the righty’s forgettable 2004 in New York, said those pitches have all been refined, especially the secondary ones.
“I think he has found a way of adding and subtracting on his breaking stuff,” Posada said. “I just think he’s a different Javy than we saw in 2004.”
And one who has taken to a different kind of clubhouse than he was in in '04.
“It seems a looser clubhouse, looser guys,” Vazquez said. “That helps out when you have guys that like to loosen it up a little bit.”
*** Mariano Rivera, after his 34-pitch live BP session, his first of the spring, was in a playful mood.
“I felt outstanding, delicious, bueno,” Rivera said.
Pitching coach Dave Eiland had said earlier in the day Rivera was likely to pitch in his first game March 17, a road game against the Phillies in Clearwater but Rivera doesn't travel much in the spring. Joe Girardi after today's game hinted that the outing, along with Damaso Marte's, is likely to come in a split squad home game March 16 against Tampa.
“We’ll figure it out,” Rivera said with a smile.
*** Alfredo Aceves, contending for the fifth rotation spot, pitched four perfect innings in the split squad victory (6-0) over the Pirates. He has not given up a hit in six innings this spring.
*** Francisco Cervelli got the go-ahead to return to the field Tuesday, though Girardi said his activities will be "light," such as catching some bullpens and taking BP.
“I’m kind of leaning toward Friday,” Girardi said of when Cervelli will play again. “But I want to see how he does. I want to see how he does the next couple days.”
*** Chan Ho Park had his live BP pushed to tomorrow because of a sore glute. No big deal, he said, and he seemed surprised to see the NY press corp descended on him this morning.
"Is this big news?" he said smiling. "What's going on?"
*** Nick Johnson played and went 0-for-2 in his return after missing several days with lower back stiffness. He repeated what he said Thursday -- that he wouldn't have missed any time had this been the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman told both Park and Johnson the same thing the last couple days regarding their minor ailments -- don't rush back because, “you’ve already made the team.”