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Vizcaino hopes to find home

Vizcaino hoping to find home with the Yankees

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TAMPA, Fla. -- It was Luis Vizcaino's first day at the new office, and the right-handed reliever was searching the Legends Field clubhouse, looking for the space he'd call home for the next six weeks.

A new locker to fill with personal effects; new pants to be sized for; new caps to break in. For Vizcaino, a well-traveled reliever pitching for his fourth team in four years, the exercise is nothing new.

"It seems like it changes every year," Vizcaino said. "You have to find new friends, the new cities, the new uniforms. It's what happens in the game. It is my job, but I want to stay in one spot. I hope this is the spot."

Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in January's Randy Johnson trade, the rubber-armed 32-year-old was 4-6 with a 3.58 ERA in 70 appearances last season, finishing 15 games and striking out 72 while walking 29 over 65 1/3 innings.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Vizcaino -- who features a power arm, a hard slider and a good splitter -- piqued the organization's interest last season.

Cashman recalled that he had contacted Arizona counterpart Josh Byrnes to pitch offers for the hurler. The Yankees could not reach a match then, but with the Big Unit on the table this past winter, the pieces finally fit to bring Vizcaino and three Minor Leaguers to New York.

"[The D-backs] had a whole assortment of inventory of right-handed relievers who I think everybody was talking about," Cashman said. "Vizcaino was one of the guys and no one was able to pry him. So this winter, I was happy to be able to bring him aboard."

A member of the 2005 World Series champion White Sox, Vizcaino has appeared in 70 or more games in four of the last five seasons. He ranks fifth among Major League pitchers with 359 games pitched since 2001, earning the nickname "Daily" last season from an Arizona coach.

At the mention of the moniker, Vizcaino breaks into a broad grin. Clearly, it is a reference that delights him.

"I like it," Vizcaino said. "I guess I got [the nickname] because I take the ball every day. It's good. Now I'm pitching for the Yankees, and I'll pitch whenever they give me the ball."

Vizcaino figures as a welcome addition for a Yankees bullpen that tends to ask a lot of its members.

For example, right-hander Scott Proctor was called into 83 games by manager Joe Torre last season, with even his warmup tosses creating an audible clicking in his elbow by season's end.

With assistance like Vizcaino on tap, the relief corps may be able to take more breathers. The right-hander has proven effective against both lefties and righties, limiting left-handed batters to a miniscule .163 batting average last season.

"We have some more depth now in an area that certainly doesn't hurt," Torre said. "We went to the well with some arms last year, and you pay the price for that."

Cashman said that Vizcaino's value could wind up being realized anywhere from the sixth to the eighth inning, helping move the line along to closer Mariano Rivera.

"He's someone that can go back-to-back, give you two innings, or be a setup guy," Cashman said. "He's versatile and he warms up rather quickly. He can be available at any time."

Vizcaino's assimilation into the Yankees' clubhouse is in the initial stages, but he appears to be quickly gaining acceptance.

He's comforted by the fact that he won't be a complete stranger in New York -- an uncle and brother reside in New Jersey, and Vizcaino plans to cross the bridges and tunnels often for visits -- and also by the fact that his ability to make friends quickly seems intact.

"I'm just working, the same as every year," Vizcaino said. "Now I play for the Yankees and I'm happy."

Vizcaino said he became friendly with several Yankees players as a member of the White Sox two years ago -- Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez among them -- but could be establishing the best rapport with Rivera, who lockers next to Vizcaino on his right.

Often, as he did Saturday, Vizcaino sits on his stool or inside his locker, polishes his leather dress shoes and pays attention as Rivera -- the elder statesman of this roster -- quietly holds court in a mixture of Spanish and English.

"He's a good person," Vizcaino said of Rivera. "I like him a lot."

Sometimes, Vizcaino chips in with a joke that creates another broad smile; mostly, he seems to be an eager listener.

"I hear he's a wonderful guy," Cashman said. "He's got a reputation in the game of being a really wonderful teammate. Hopefully he can get the job done for us the same way he's done it for others."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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