Vazquez Not 'Happy' but Content...For Now

Vazquez Not 'Happy' but Content...For Now

All of it's true. Javier Vazquez hated to be traded by the New York Yankees. He'd prefer to pitch for an East Coast team so he could be closer to his family in Puerto Rico. And he's not sure if his stay with the Diamondbacks will last beyond this season.

    Vazquez was upfront and honest about all those scenarios upon being introduced to the Arizona media for the first time since being acquired from the Yankees in the Randy Johnson trade. But he also said he's willing to give the Diamondbacks a try.
   "I feel pretty good about being here," said Vazquez, who, because he was dealt during the middle of a multiyear contract, has the option of demanding a trade next fall. "They've made some good changes and I think we're going to have a good season. There was a lot of noise that I didn't want to play on the West Coast, but I'd prefer to play on a good team and a winning team on the West Coast than a losing team on the East Coast."
   That being said, however, Vazquez added that it's important to him and his wife to be able to make occasional trips back to Puerto Rico, and that could come into play if he decides to exercise his trade options.
   "I can't say if I'm going to ask for a trade or not," Vazquez said. "I know that's an option I have, but I can't tell you right now what it's going to take. I might play in Phoenix and I might love Phoenix."
   Vazquez said he thinks he's ironed out the problems in his mechanics that caused his second-half swoon last season in New York, which included serving up a grand slam in relief to Boston's Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the ALCS.
   "Instead of staying on top of the ball, I was pushing the ball," said Vazquez, who went 14-9 with a 4.75 ERA with the Yankees. "I had a low arm angle. I think that had a lot to do with the movement on my pitches and the action that my pitches had."
   As for the trade that brought him to the desert, Vazquez said he wished it could have worked out differently on a number of fronts. He said he called Yankees GM Brian Cashman after the deal to discuss his views on his one-year stay in the Bronx.
   "I told him I didn't want to get traded because I didn't want it to end the way it ended in New York," Vazquez said. "I wanted to go back there and show everybody I'm a better pitcher than I was in the second half. But it didn't work out and now I'm here and I want to show everybody that I'm better than I was last year."
   WHERE, WHEN: Tucson Electric Park, Tucson, Ariz. First exhibition game is March 3 against Chicago White Sox.
   WHO'S IN CHARGE: Manager Bob Melvin, first year, 156-168 during last two seasons as Seattle Mariners manager, returns to Arizona, where he was bench coach from 2001-02; pitching coach Mark Davis, hitting coach Mike Aldrete, bench coach Jay Bell, third-base coach Carlos Tosca, first base coach Brett Butler, bullpen coach Chuck Kniffin.
   TOP CANDIDATE TO SURPRISE: 1B Chad Tracy finished ranked in the Top 10 in 10 different offensive categories among all rookies last season and should benefit greatly if he his sixth in the lineup behind sluggers Luis Gonzalez, Troy Glaus and Shawn Green. Tracy is a solid contact hitter who bats for average and sprays the ball to all three fields, and manager Bob Melvin thinks Tracy could shine as bright as anyone in the D-backs' revamped lineup. The signing of backup 1B Tony Clark should take some pressure off Tracy and also push him a bit at the same time.
  TOP CANDIDATE TO DISAPPOINT: 2B Craig Counsell entered spring training with the keys to the starting job even though he may be better served as a super-utility player coming off the bench. He can be a clutch performer but needs to prove he can still be productive on a daily basis if it means keeping two younger second basemen, Matt Kata and Alex Cintron, on the bench.
 
NOTES, QUOTES
   --LF Luis Gonzalez reported early to camp and showed no signs of pain or discomfort in his surgically repaired right elbow. Gonzalez underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 2 and won't play a full slate of Cactus League games. "I think it's more of remembering that my goal is to be 100 percent for Opening Day," Gonzalez said. "The goal isn't to be 100 percent here; it's to be ready for Opening Day."
   --RHP Brandon Lyon has recovered from ulnar nerve transposition surgery and will compete for a spot in the bullpen after missing all of last season.
   "His ball's got a lot of movement to it," manager Bob Melvin said. "I've talked to a lot of people who think he's going to be a special pitcher."
   --RHPs Ramon Pena (visa problems) and Jose Jimenez (personal matter) were the only no-shows when pitchers and catchers reported, but both were expected to arrive after missing only a few days.
   --LHP Brad Murray, 26, was acquired from the White Sox as the player to be named later in the Roberto Alomar trade and will report to minor league camp March 7.
   BY THE NUMBERS: 83 -- Quality starts by Javier Vazquez from 2000-03, the most of any pitcher in the majors during that span.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "Going stealthy is a better way to go. You can sneak up on some people that way. But once we get on the field and start playing games, I don't foresee us sneaking up on people. They'll know about us. People can pick us to finish wherever they want. The games are played on the field, not in a boardroom or a newsroom." -- Third baseman Troy Glaus on the 2005 season.

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