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Vazquez's laser arm at full strength

Sox catcher threw out runner stealing in the 1st inning Sunday
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Braves leadoff man Micah Johnson has good speed and seemed to have a good jump when he tried to steal second base, just moments into Sunday's eventual 11-1 loss to the Red Sox.

But that was when Boston catcher Christian Vazquez displayed that his arm is finally back to full strength, nearly two years after he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Braves leadoff man Micah Johnson has good speed and seemed to have a good jump when he tried to steal second base, just moments into Sunday's eventual 11-1 loss to the Red Sox.

But that was when Boston catcher Christian Vazquez displayed that his arm is finally back to full strength, nearly two years after he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

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It was the type of throw that used to be a habit for Vazquez -- the laser down to second that nailed Johnson by about five feet.

"The carry and the accuracy is approaching pre-surgery," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "A very good day for Christian defensively for sure."

An even more telling play took place in the third, when Vazquez made one of his patented snap pickoff throws to first and appeared to nail Austin Riley. If it had been a regular-season game, Farrell likely would have called for a replay challenge. At this point, everyone around the Red Sox is just happy to see Vazquez displaying that form again.

"His feet are lightning quick," said Farrell. "You could see the pick at first base. When you look at just the play unfold, that's exactly what Christian has done in the past. It's great to see a day for him behind the plate as he showed."

Sandy Leon, Vazquez and Blake Swihart are in a battle for the two catching spots on the roster. Vazquez has no options remaining, which probably gives him an advantage over Swihart, who can be sent down.

Video: MIN@BOS: Vazquez scores Selsky with double

As Farrell said earlier this week, "Christian Vazquez is never going to slip through waivers."

For Vazquez, it's very easy to differentiate this spring from a year ago.

"Throwing," said Vazquez. "That's the biggest difference between last year and this year. My arm feels a lot better. I'm strong. I feel great."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Christian Vazquez