Vazquez shakes off Schilling comments
Ex-Red Sox hurler criticizes Yanks righty for sluggish start
BALTIMORE -- Curt Schilling might not be climbing the mound anymore, but he is still throwing heat at the Yankees.
Schilling criticized Bombers right-hander Javier Vazquez during a radio appearance on Tuesday, saying that the hurler's sluggish start -- he's 1-3 with a 9.00 ERA in four starts -- was indicative of what the Yankees can expect from him all year.
"He's not a guy that I've ever felt was comfortable in the glow," Schilling told ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd. "You're seeing what you're going to get from him consistently all year. Having said that, he could turn around next week and throw a one-hitter with his stuff. I just don't see him being a consistent winner in the American League."
Vazquez, who does not know Schilling personally, said he was not bothered by the comments.
"I guess everybody is entitled to their opinion," Vazquez said. "I feel good. This is four starts. I know I've struggled, and it's tough. But I've got to get through it and there's a lot of season left."
Vazquez has been among the first to admit that his second tour in pinstripes has not started as well as he would have liked -- in fact, he acknowledged that everything "looks terrible" so far when viewed on paper. But he wasn't about to lose sleep over what Schilling thinks.
"If you listen to everything that everybody has to say in this world, you'll go crazy," Vazquez said. "I never listen to what anybody says. I just go by what the guys here in this clubhouse think."
Schilling said in the ESPN interview that Vazquez is a "phenomenal National League pitcher," but suggested that Vazquez won't be the same pitcher in the American League.
"The National League is an easier league to pitch in, period," Schilling said. "And some guys aren't equipped to get those same outs in the American League, and he's one of those guys."
Of course, Vazquez was a first-half All-Star with the Yankees in 2004, finishing the year 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA. He also won 38 games with the White Sox from 2006-08, pitching more than 200 innings each year with excellent walk-to-strikeout ratios.
"I've had success in the American League," Vazquez said. "I'm just making terrible pitches. When you make terrible pitches in the National League or the American League, they're going to hit you."
Granderson eyes return trip to White House
BALTIMORE -- Curtis Granderson can claim something odd for a member of the 2010 Yankees -- he has been to the White House and met President Barack Obama, yet is still looking to win his first World Series.
Granderson met the President in February when he represented Major League Baseball at a White House function to support First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity. They also shook hands at last year's All-Star Game in St. Louis.
"I think for the guys who haven't had a chance to meet the President and go to the White House, it's a learning experience," Granderson said. "From what I heard from the guys I talked to, the biggest parts were the hospital visits beforehand."
When the Yankees went to exchange pleasantries with the President on Monday in the White House's East Room, only members of the 2009 squad were invited.
That meant that six Yankees -- Granderson, Nick Johnson, Boone Logan, Marcus Thames, Javier Vazquez and Randy Winn -- all had a free day to themselves in Baltimore. Not surprisingly, most used it to catch up on sleep after their cross-country flight.
Granderson didn't see any of the coverage on television, but he didn't need to see the President shaking hands with the World Series-winning team to want to be a part of a similar ceremony in 2011.
"I think the motivation is there every year, no matter if the team did it without you," Granderson said. "I think everybody wants to get back there as soon as you can. I had a chance to get close in '06, and ever since then, I've been hungry."
Johnson takes pain-free BP
BALTIMORE -- Nick Johnson took batting practice on Tuesday and reported no ill effects, hoping that his stiff lower back has calmed enough that he will be able to return to the lineup on Wednesday.
Johnson felt his back tighten after taking extra batting practice on Friday in Anaheim, and played in that contest, going 1-for-4, before being shelved. He has taken anti-inflammatory medications and said that everything has loosened up.
"It doesn't affect my swing," Johnson said. "I'll just continue to get treatment, but it's good to go. It won't hinder me at all."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he would like to stay away from using Johnson as a pinch-hitter on Tuesday. He said that it was no lock that Johnson -- batting .135 (7-for-52) with a .375 on-base percentage -- would immediately return to the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
"The first thing we've got to do is get Nick back, and then we'll go from there," Girardi said.
On Sunday, Johnson requested a number change, switching back from the No. 26 he had been wearing to the No. 36 he wore with the Yankees in 2002-03. No. 36 had been used by reliever Edwar Ramirez before he was traded in Spring Training, but Johnson didn't express an interest in the switch until now.
"I had it when I was here the first time. I'm not superstitious or anything," Johnson said.
Afterman enjoys joking with President
BALTIMORE -- Yankees assistant general manager Jean Afterman was amused by the small stir she had created with her quick remark during Monday's reception at the White House, setting up President Barack Obama for a slam-dunk one-liner.
Afterman made sure to clarify that she has been a big supporter of the President since he announced his candidacy, and as such, she felt right at home as the Yankees were setting up an East Room photo with Obama and the World Series trophy.
From the front row of the assembly, Afterman urged Yankees manager Joe Girardi to "let him hold it; he might not get a chance again," a reference to Obama's earlier comments about his devout fandom of the White Sox.
Undaunted by the chorus of laughter that followed the remark, Obama smiled and quickly replied, "And you wonder why other teams don't root for you," drawing an even louder response.
"One of his enormous talents is to make everyone feel comfortable and make you feel like you can engage in what I'd like to think was witty repartee with the leader of the free world," Afterman said Tuesday.
"It was a little ice-breaker, I thought. I thought it just made everyone feel comfortable. I too remember 2005, so I thought his remarks were great. I thought they were genuine. Everyone has their favorite team, and it's just like two people sitting around and cheering their favorite team."
Yankees right-hander Chan Ho Park felt more tightness in his right hamstring while tossing on flat ground in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, constituting a setback as he attempts to return from the 15-day disabled list. Park is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Wednesday, and there is no timetable for his return. ... Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano entered play Tuesday leading all Major League second basemen with a .368 batting average and is tied for the lead in hits (25).
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.