Padres’ Randy Vásquez keen to stay in rotation competition

Randy Vásquez’s future in the Padres’ starting rotation doesn’t entirely depend on him. But this is precisely how he approaches his upcoming departure:

Make the Padres think long and hard about what to do with the 25-year-old Dominican.

“I love competing,” Vásquez said Sunday morning through interpreter Pedro Gutierrez. “It’s healthy competition within the clubhouse. Obviously, I want to put myself in the best position available for the team to make those kinds of decisions.

Vásquez took a good step forward last weekend in Chicago, striking out six batters without walking a batter in 4⅓ innings with just one run. His future in the rotation won’t depend on what he does Monday against the Colorado Rockies.

Joe Musgrove played catch in right field before Sunday’s game, the latest in a series of small steps he’s taking as he seeks to return from the injured list after a minimum of 15 days on the shelf . If all continues to go well, Musgrove will move to the front of a mound before a full-fledged bullpen and session, perhaps ultimately, a return to the rotation in about a week.

As for the other rotation spot that had fallen into limbo, Matt Waldron bounced back in a big way Saturday, holding the Dodgers to two runs in 5⅓ innings to lower his ERA to 5.49 in a series of eight split starts. also between good (1.66 ERA over 21⅔ innings) and not-so-good (10.19 ERA over 17⅔ innings).

Vásquez hopes to continue adding to his record Monday against the Rockies after entering the competition in the least favorable position of all: at Triple-A El Paso in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

The Yankees, Vásquez said, don’t have affiliates that play in such harsh environments, but he was prepared enough since he was drafted for the Chihuahuas after the Seoul Series.

“Most of the time they warned me that any kind of contact could turn into a home run,” Vásquez said. “That was part of it, but I felt like my pitches had good movement while I was out there. Again, I just tried to focus on the mental aspect. I try to take it one batter at a time.

Caveats aside, Vásquez has allowed three homers and an 8.40 ERA in 15 Triple-A innings split between two stints replacing Yu Darvish and now Musgrove.

The only bad start in the majors was again at altitude. He allowed four runs in 2⅔ innings at Coors Field, although he wasn’t entirely absolved of giving up a three-run homer after an error in his Padres debut on April 20 (5 IP, 4 R, 1 ER).

Vásquez, however, was particularly pleased with his final start as he racked up six strikeouts without walking a single batter. He hopes this will be a springboard that keeps him in the discussion throughout the season, if not the immediate competition with Waldron for the fifth spot in the rotation.

“It’s mostly with my mechanics,” Vásquez said of what he liked the most. “My mechanics were a little faulty during my first starts. It wasn’t in a good rhythm. This last opportunity on the mound, I executed my throws better… and that allowed me to be successful.

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