HOUSTON - The ordeal was over for Christian Vazquez. They were three days he will never forget - when the catcher morphed from Red Sox to Astro.
That didn't mean, however, there a strong desire to put the whole thing in his rearview mirror.
"It’s going to be easier when I see another team that’s not the Red Sox," Vazquez told WEEI.com, sitting at his new locker after helping guide his new team to a 6-1 win over the visitors from Boston.
It was uncomfortable for everyone. Vazquez. His former teammates. And, especially, his good friend Xander Bogaerts, who got one last reminder regarding this new reality on his way out of town.
"He knows I love him a lot and it’s going to be tough on the plane," Vazquez said. "My seat is going to be empty. There was him and me on the plane. It’s going to be hard when he sees that seat empty. It’s going to be tough for him. We’re going to talk a lot on the phone. He knows. We’re going to be good. We’re going to be good."
While the big picture of Vazquez's departure of the Red Sox has been, and will be much of the focus for the 2022 season, his presence behind the plate against his former team Wednesday afternoon offered an interesting sidelight.
It was no coincidence that Houston pitcher Jose Urquidy, who came into the game with limited success against the Red Sox, dominated Alex Cora's club, not allowing a hit until Reese McGuire's leadoff single in the sixth inning.
There were also those three strikeouts of Rafael Devers, who had only fanned that many times one other time this season.
"Yeah. It was so weird to face my ex-teammates. I was guessing when I was hitting. It was weird. (His hitting) was so awful. It was bad. But it was fun to strike out Carita (Devers) three times. I love you Carita, but …
"I told him it was going to be fastballs up. He knew that. But it was fun. It was very fun. We almost threw a no-hitter there. It was fun. It was very fun. I’m going to miss them a lot. I hope we see them in the playoffs. But hitting ... I’m catching everybody there for a long time and I know everybody and what they’re going to throw. I was guessing if they were going to be the same or change the plan. It was so weird."
Sure, he might have gone 0-for-4, but there was that other side of the ball.
"I know we talk about hitting in that clubhouse so I knew everything about them. It was easier to call the game. I know everybody," Vazquez said with a smile when talking about his game-calling against the Red Sox. So, did the familiarity make that much of a difference? "I think so," he added. "For sure."
Even with the opportunity to finally officially turn the page, with Vazquez packing up his newly-minted Astros duffel bag, there is still clearly some thoughts of what was and what might have been.
"First of all, we have been playing together since 2011. We won a World Series together," he said. "I thought we had a chance this year. But the team was struggling, a lot. That team needs a couple of pieces, that’s it, to get better … and to get healthy. You never know with the front office. It’s so hard to know what they’re thinking about. It’s hard. It’s part of the game.
"In my mind, I was thinking (Sunday) was my last game at Fenway Park. Something was telling me it was the last game at Fenway Park. I don’t know, bro. We had a two-game winning streak and I thought they were going to stay with the same team, get some pieces and we were going to be in the playoffs. But now we’re here. Let’s win the World Series here."
Now Vazquez can live his life as an Astro for at least a few months. After that, who knows? Maybe next February he will be reliving a crazy few days with his former teammates while sharing their clubhouse once again.
One day at a time. Or, in this case, three days.
"When they say, ‘Play ball,’ we go. Put the sentiments to the side. It’s a hard feeling that we’re not together. I don’t know … It’s a game that turns around a lot. You never know. Let’s focus here, win, and see what happens.
"It was fun. It was very fun. I’m going to miss them a lot. I hope we see them in the playoffs."
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