Yanks' Vazquez leaves future up in air
Right-hander says 'I don't have much playing time left'
NEW YORK -- After being traded to the Yankees last month, Javier Vazquez mentioned how those close to him would have known that he never wanted to leave New York after the 2004 season.
How long he stays, however, could be a matter to address in the future. Vazquez told a Puerto Rican newspaper that he knows he can't spend the rest of his life on big league mounds, and said that he will not pitch to age 40.
"I don't have much playing time left," Vazquez told the newspaper La Perla del Sur. "It is up to God. I go year by year, and I don't know if it will be one, two or three years, but I'm definitely not going to play until 40."
That does not present an immediate issue for the Yankees in the case of Vazquez, who turns 34 in July and is signed through 2010.
He was acquired last month from the Braves along with left-hander Boone Logan in exchange for outfielder Melky Cabrera, left-handed reliever Mike Dunn and right-hander Arodys Vizcaino.
Vazquez also noted in the La Perla del Sur article that he needs to throw his curveball more this season, he has never used steroids and he would like to win a World Series before he retires.
Vazquez was appealing to the Yankees in part because of what they viewed as an attractive contract, paying him $11.5 million in the final year of a three-year deal originally signed with the White Sox.
The right-hander went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA in 32 starts for Atlanta in 2009, and he has been penciled in as the Yankees' No. 4 starter behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.
While Vazquez's first season in pinstripes ended on a sour note, serving up a home run to Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, he finally revealed after the trade that he had been pitching with an injury for the second half of the 2004 season.
"He's a tremendous pitcher that has a long career of success and durability," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last month. "Really, the second half of '04 -- which was poor -- cannot erase the long success that he's had as a Major League pitcher, both in the American and National Leagues.
"When you sit down and listen to the scouts and have them describe his abilities and look at his production and how he's performed, he is one of the better pitchers in the game. We look forward to having him join our staff."
Vazquez has repeatedly remarked that he never had any desire to leave New York, but it didn't work out that way. He was dealt in the January 2005 trade to the D-backs that put Randy Johnson in a Yankees uniform, and then moved on to the White Sox, where he was a teammate of current Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher. Vazquez joined the Braves in 2009.
Signing a new deal with Chicago, Vazquez did not list New York among several teams on a partial no-trade list, opening the door to a possible return.
"I'm glad to be back," Vazquez said last month. "I'm excited to be part of this team again. Everybody that knows me knows that I didn't want to leave my first time out. I'm just glad that I can be back."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.