Although the official report date is still a few days away, there are several Yankees already in Tampa working out and getting a jump on spring training. Two of them are Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain – friends, to be sure, but also rivals for the fifth-starter competition that will play out over the next six weeks or so.
Hughes told a few reporters that he is “out of the reliever mindset” for now and focusing on sharpening his repertoire. He also guessed that his innings limit, if he does win the job, will be around 175 — which shouldn’t be a problem since off-days during the season would allow the Yankees to skip the fifth starter spot a few times.
The most interesting thing about Hughes’s candidacy will be how well he’s able to improve his change-up. Dave Eiland made a point of stressing its importance to Hughes and right now it’s obviously his fourth pitch; he barely threw it at all in 2009 since it wasn’t necessary when he was working out of the bullpen. Obviously that’ll have to change if he’s a starter.
The Joba vs. Phil debate figures to be a fascinating aspect of spring training, and you can make strong cases for both guys. Everyone – from team officials to teammates to fans – will be watching every pitch each guy throws, and both already know that they’re the other’s main competition.
“It’s kind of one of those things that really doesn’t need to be said,” Hughes said.
By the way: For those, who love the Yankees and casinos (not necessarily in that order), the World Series trophy is coming to the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut tonight and tomorrow.
The Trophy will be on display tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Connecticut Sports Foundation Dinner. On Saturday, it will be on display and available for the public to take pictures just outside of the Box Office in The Shops at Mohegan Sun from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. For additional information, call (888) 226-7711.