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Saturday, May 15, 2010
Vazquez to miss turn in rotation

By Wallace Matthews
ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Three days ago, Javier Vazquez had his finest outing of the season -- seven innings of five hit, two-run, seven-strikeout ball against the Detroit Tigers. He kept the Yankees in the game, gave his bullpen some much-needed rest, gave his team a more-than-good chance to win.

In return, he gets a nine-day vacation.

Manager Joe Girardi announced Friday that despite Vazquez's good outing against the Tigers -- who went on to win the game, 2-0, on a day the Yankee bats went dead against Rick Porcello -- he would be skipped in the rotation until Friday night when the Yankees open a three-game interleague series against the Mets at Citi Field.

"I know Javy wants to pitch but that was we thought was the right decision at this time," Girardi said after the Yankees 7-1 victory at Yankee Stadium Saturday afternoon. "You can always look for rhymes and reasons for things and sometimes there just isn't any."

Girardi said the biggest factor in skipping Vazquez's turn was the rainout in Detroit on Tuesday, which necessitated moving Vazquez's last start to Wednesday and prevented him from pitching Sunday on three day's rest.

As expected, Sergio Mitre will start in Vazquez's place in the finale against the Twins Sunday afternoon. What was less expected was that rather than move everyone in their rotation back a day, the Yankees would push Vazquez to the back of the line coming off his strongest start of the year.

"We took everything into account," Girardi said. "There were a lot of internal discussions and what we came up with is that this is the best thing for our club right now."

And yet, for the second straight time, it seemed as if the Yankees were avoiding pitching Vazquez against the Red Sox, who come to the Bronx Monday night for a two-game set. Last weekend, Girardi skipped Vazquez's turn at Fenway Park, saying he preferred to save Vazquez for interleague play, where his bat could be a factor in games at National League parks without a DH.

This weekend, Girardi threw in the weather as a co-conspirator in keeping Vazquez (1-4, 8.10 ERA) on a roughly once-every 10 days pitching schedule.

"We got into a little pickle because of the rain," he said. "We believe we're getting Javy back to where he needs to be. Players have always had to learn to adapt. Last time, we gave him 10 days and he pitched very well."

Vazquez, who had his young son with him at the ballpark before Saturday's game, was not in the clubhouse afterward to comment. Before the game, general manager Brian Cashman was complimentary about Vazquez' performance against the Tigers but non-committal on his immediate Yankee future.

"I thought he was much better [Wednesday] against a very tough lineup," Cashman said. "He gave us a real quality start when we needed one. That was an important step for him and for us. He's got to feel much better now than he has all year."

But when asked his opinion of whether Vazquez should start against Boston, Cashman said, "I always let our manager be the first one to discuss publicly what our plan is."

After the game, Girardi revealed that plan. And for the next six days, it does not include Javier Vazquez, the sixth man in a five-man rotation.

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.