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Vazquez enjoys being along for the ride

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SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the most successful pitchers to come out of Puerto Rico, Javier Vazquez is disappointed that a knee injury sustained in winter ball cost him an opportunity to pitch in the World Baseball Classic. But the veteran right-hander from Ponce is having a good time mentoring and cheering on the Puerto Rican roster.

"I'm feeling great, besides the knee," Vazquez said. "But other than that, I feel great. I'm playing catch with a couple of the guys and that feels good. But I'm done playing, like I said before, and just enjoying it. I'm talking to the guys and being able to talk to the younger guys. I love doing that.

"We have a lot of good young pitchers coming up that, hopefully, will be in the big leagues pretty soon."

Vazquez, 36, winner of 165 Major League games, had high praise for five-time Gold Glove Award winner Yadier Molina, who has been guiding the pitching staff.

"I'm not throwing to him," Vazquez said, "but he's definitely the best. He's done it [on] the big stage and he keeps doing it. You can see by the way our pitchers are throwing in this Classic, and he's a big part of it. He calls a great game. He's very smart behind the plate. Obviously, the running game, he controls it.

"He's a big part of what the pitching staff is doing, and we're very happy he's on our side."

Lyle Spencer 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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