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Pirates

Vazquez gets rare start against ChiSox

| Saturday, May 23, 2009

CHICAGO — Ramon Vazquez disagrees with the perception that American League games tend to drag more than National League contests.

"National League games are more about strategy," Vazquez said. "Sometimes, games take a lot longer because of double switches or bringing in different pitchers for different situations, pinch-hitting for the pitcher.

"In the American League, the games can go a little faster in that (strategy) aspect, but there's always a lot of offense. Other than that, it's the same game."

Although he has played for more AL teams (Seattle, Cleveland, Boston and Texas), Vazquez has played more games (326 to 299) in the NL.

This season, Vazquez has appeared in 30 of the Pirates' 42 games, including 15 starts. He made his fourth start Friday at third base.

Vazquez pinch-hit for Andy LaRoche on Thursday in the ninth inning against Washington. Manager John Russell said LaRoche's off-day was merely precautionary.

"It's like with Freddy (Sanchez). We don't want to ride him too hard," Russell said. "You want them to keep feeling fresh, not run down."

Russell planned to give Andy LaRoche, who is riding a seven-game hitting streak, a day off sometime during the six-game span (three apiece against the White Sox and Cubs) in Chicago. With right-hander Gavin Floyd starting last night — the Sox will throw lefties today and tomorrow — it was a good time to get the lefty-hitting Vazquez into the lineup.

Last night was Vazquez's first start since May 9. He admitted it sometimes can be difficult to be patient at the plate after such a long layoff from regular at-bats.

"I'm still going to do the same things as always," Vazquez said. "If the situation says I've got to take some pitches and work the count, I'm going to do it. I'm not going to go up there and swing right away just because I haven't got a lot of at-bats lately."

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