Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes threw live BP today on the main field. It was very interesting to watch.
Pettitte is working on a slide step, something he has never used in the past, to hold runners closer.
Why would a lefty with a great pickoff move need a slide step? According to Pettitte, several players in the AL East have tormented him by stealing third base, He mentioned Aaron Hill, Brian Roberts and Alex Rios.
“I have to figure out some way to keep them from doing that,” he said.
Hughes was, in a word, terrific. He made Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu and Francisco Cervelli look foolish at times. He got Abreu to swing and miss at a curveball and had Damon fouling balls off the other way, a sign of how late his swing was. Jeter only swung at 3 of the 10 pitches he saw and fouled all of them off.
Now, keep in mind, the hitters have been facing live pitching for four days and Hughes started throwing off a mound in Tampa in mid January. But what was encouraging is the confidence with which Hughes threw his curveball.
That was the pitch he was throwing when he blew out his hamstring in Texas last May. For Hughes to throw the curve the way he wants, he has to follow through with his body and “snap” the pitch off. Without confidence that your legs will hold up, it’s a hard pitch to throw.
As he said later on, he never had his true curveball last year after the injury. Now it’s back. Hughes is working out with Pettitte six days a week and has dropped 10 pounds since last season. You can never say never, but all the work he has done should help him avoid leg injuries.
I know it’s Feb. 25. But if you’re a Yankees fan you should be just as excited about Hughes as you are Joba Chamberlain. Phil Franchise is the real deal.