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Vechionacci Working His Way Back
"Obviously we are proud that he is here to continue his rehab and to help this ball club," Staten Island manager Pat McMahon said, "also while he gets himself into playing shape. So he's a first class young man and works, so we're very excited to have him here with us."
Vechionacci appeared to be seeing the ball well after the extended trip to the disabled list and even made an impressive back-handed diving play in the infield. However, his ability to run has been hampered by the injury, which has caused him to bounce into a pair of double plays in his first six at-bats.
"I started the game yesterday and I feel good," Vechionacci said before Monday's game against Brooklyn. "The quad is a little sore. The problem is running, but it is ready to play on right now, so I try to play."
So much time off typically makes players a bit stir crazy, but Vechionacci was upbeat about his rehab stint in Staten Island and excited to get off to a good start.
"When I play I play normally," said Vechionacci. "My body feels good and I don't have any problems. My season starts right now. I lost three months, but I feel great right now so it's like the start of the season and I feel good."
With a hitter coming back from a leg injury there are a few things that teams are keeping an eye out for during their rehab stints, but most important of all is their timing at the plate.
"Timing is a major issue at this level," McMahon said. "This league has outstanding pitching and so I think it's a great test for him."
"My timing is not too good now, but it's pretty good," said Vechionacci, who went 1-3 on Monday. "It looked good yesterday. I worked in the cage with the hitting coach."
Even though he may be a bit modest about his quick start coming off the injury, Staten Island hitting coach Ty Hawkins says he's quite impressed. The two have often been working together in the cages to help the 21-year-old regain his form.
"I mean for the amount of time he's been off his timing on game speed pitching is pretty impressive," Hawkins expressed with amazement. "The way he came out of it right away, like I said, it's impressive."
Another concern Staten Island coaches expressed was that he doesn't change his approach because he is nursing an injury, but so far that doesn't appear to be the case. Vechionacci said that team doctors have cleared him for all baseball activities. Still, he is taking it easy on the base paths.
"I haven't changed anything," said Vechionacci. "Right now I'm not running too hard. I'm running 50 or 60 percent. It depends on the situation in the game. If I run to score maybe I run a little bit more hard. If I just get a base hit maybe I run it easy. It depends on the situation of the game."
Still they are being vigilant of how he reacts to playing out there. As a precaution he is limited to about five innings a game and he may even get a few off days just to be safe.
"You've got to be very concerned because so much of the lower base is a big, big issue in hitting and defending," McMahon said. "It's not just about running, it's about movement, short bursts, quick bursts, being able to get up and down, and then the torque and twisting action that you have while hitting, especially in his case because he is a switch-hitter."
In the beginning of the season Vechionacci expressed a desire to play solid baseball this year and to hopefully earn a promotion to Triple-A. With the injury now, he's mainly concerned with just being able to finish this year out strong and doesn't care where he finishes.
"I don't know, maybe yes maybe no," Vechionacci said when asked if he thought there was any chance for a promotion. "But I want to go back to Double-A and have a good season and a good average. I don't know what would happen in the last month."
He is also hesitant to say where he'll end up at the start of the season next year. He'll be 22 in just a few days and is a free agent at the end of this season, so he could end up anywhere. It would most likely be in Double-A if he stays with the Yankees, but there is a possibility of a team needing him at their Triple-A level.
For Vechionacci the most important thing is to play a full healthy season in order to get back on the radar of major league teams as a decent prospect.
"My mentality is to start the season to start anywhere, Double-a or Triple-a, I just want to play," he said. "I don't want to have any more injuries and I want to play all year. My body and my mentality is good. So I don't know where I'll be, I just know I'm going to work hard and help the team."
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