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Monday, May 3, 2010
Vazquez to skip start; A-Rod back

By Wallace Matthews

Beleaguered right-hander Javier Vazquez will miss his scheduled start on Friday night at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. Vazquez will be held back until Monday, when he'll face the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

"We're just going to move him back a few days," manager Joe Girardi said, "give him a couple bullpen sessions, see where we're at. ... He wants to get back out there and pitch, and that's how I would expect him to be. But I just thought he could use a little time to catch his breath."

Girardi said Vazquez's recent struggles and the supercharged atmosphere of Yankees-Red Sox games factored into his decision. Vazquez (1-3, 9.78) wanted to pitch in his regular turn, Girardi said, but the manager decided on a delay.

"Fenway Park is certainly not an easy place to figure yourself out," general manager Brian Cashman said in explaining the move. "Detroit is not an easy place, either, because their offense is on fire. But we're trying to find the right decision to make. it doesn't mean this is necessarily the right course of action, but it's the one we are going to take."

Cashman said the move was a group decision among Girardi, pitching coach Dave Eiland and himself. "There's a clear recognition that there's some major struggling going on here," Cashman said. "We've got to get him back on track and we know it won't be easy and it won't be quick. Do we expect he's gonna throw a spectacular performance that's radically different from what we've gotten so far? No. We just hope we'll see something we can hang our hat on."

Phil Hughes (3-0, 1.44) will make the start on Friday, followed by CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

Dobbs He's frustrated and he's hurting right now. He's clearly better than this. We know it and he knows it.

-- Yankees GM Brian Cashman
on Javier Vazquez

Vazquez allowed five runs and seven hits over three-plus innings in Saturday's 7-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox. His location and velocity has been inconsistent, but Girardi said he believes Vazquez is healthy.

"At some point you've got to do something a little bit different when you've had I think it's five starts, and he's struggled," Girardi said. "The off day [Thursday] allowed us to do this."

Said Cashman: "He's frustrated and he's hurting right now. He's clearly better than this. We know it and he knows it."

Vazquez's first stint in New York ended miserably, when he relieved Kevin Brown trailing 2-0 in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series and allowed a first-pitch grand slam to Johnny Damon, then gave up a two-run homer to Damon in the fourth.

Vazquez was dealt to Arizona after the season in a trade that brought Randy Johnson to New York. Following a year with the Diamondbacks, he spent three seasons with the White Sox, where manager Ozzie Guillen said he hadn't been a big-game pitcher.

"I don't really want to get into, you know, Ozzie said this or whatever," Vazquez said after the incident.

Vazquez, who was not available before Monday's game, is coming off a solid year with the Braves, when he went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA. He has won at least 10 games and made at least 32 starts in each of the last 10 seasons.

The 33-year-old, who was second in NL Cy Young voting in 2009, will make $11.5 million in 2010 and can become a free agent at the end of the year.

"He's clearly better than this and he knows that, too," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees' lineup on Tuesday.

Rodriguez said he experienced a little cramping in his right leg before he was lifted for a pinch runner in the ninth inning of Saturday's game. He stayed in the dugout during New York's 12-3 victory over the White Sox on Sunday and insisted Monday that he's fine.

"Everything feels good," he said.

Girardi first said Rodriguez just needed a day off after playing in New York's first 23 games. After Cashman indicated Rodriguez felt something in his leg, Girardi said the three-time AL MVP was "a little bit stiff" but maintained he wasn't injured.

Rodriguez was batting .258 with two homers and 15 RBIs heading into the series opener against the Orioles.

"I hope he comes back feeling refreshed," Girardi said. "That was the purpose of giving him a day off yesterday."

While Rodriguez returned Monday night, closer Mariano Rivera was sidelined with stiffness in his left side and catcher Jorge Posada departed before the sixth inning with a mild right calf strain. Both players are day to day.

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for Follow him on Twitter. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.