Surrounded by reports in the visiting clubhouse here in Phoenix, Phil Hughes was answering all of the questions you’d expect about his innings limit and his turn being skipped. When someone asked whether he knew exactly how many innings he would be allowed to pitch, Joba Chamberlain leaned over the crowd.
“High five,” he said, holding his left hand up to Hughes. “Someone else gets the question. Awesome!”
No, Hughes doesn’t know exactly how many innings he’s allowed to throw this season. He hasn’t asked. The only thing he asked when the Yankees told him his turn was being skipped this week was whether he’d have to miss another start before the all-star break. The Yankees assured him that, for now, it’s only this start that’s being skipped.
“I assume there are going to be some scenarios where something needs to happen in the second half,” Hughes said. “I can’t imagine one start prior to the all-star break being the breaking point of my innings limit. I didn’t ask about the second half because it’s so far off.”
Girardi said the Yankees are hoping to avoid last year’s Joba Chamberlain situation. The early season injury to Chien-Ming Wang kept the Yankees from being able to skip Chamberlain early last season, and they were forced to give him those strange three- and four-inning starts late in the year.
“Obviously you’d love to be able to say in spring training, here’s the plan, here’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Girardi said. “You’re going to average 6.1 innings per game and you’re going to get to your innings limitation on September 30. But the one thing I’m not going to do is I’m not going to jeopardize the game that he’s pitching in because of his innings limitation. If he’s dealing through six and it’s a 2-1 game, I’m not taking him out because of his innings limitation. We’ll worry about (later) and we’ll adjust.”
As for Hughes, he’s obviously disappointed that he won’t be able to pitch in front of his friends and family in Los Angeles, but he seemed to expect something like this would happen sooner or later. Hughes is a big guy and he seems to have a strong arm, but there’s no way of knowing who’s going to need this kind of treatment and who won’t.
“It’s hard for anybody to predict whether they’ll need it or not,” Hughes said. “Some guys obviously didn’t. Nolan Ryan didn’t need an innings limit. But some guys did. It’s impossible for me to say whether I do or not. But, I mean, they’re being on the safe side and I respect that because they obviously have my best interests in mind. Anytime an organization does that, you’re on board with it.”
Here’s Girardi explaining the situation.
• Chad Moeller was in fact designated for assignment to make room for Colin Curtis, or “Little CC” as Girardi called him. “We felt in these games Colin gives us flexibility with double switches (and as a) left-handed pinch hitter,” Girardi said. “We feel that Jorge, he came through the other day where he didn’t feel it the whole game so we just felt it was worth the risk.”
• Girardi could play Posada two out of three games in each of these National League parks, getting him through the week without having to catch back-to-back games. Girardi said that scenario is possible, but he didn’t necessarily say it’s the plan.
• Curtis played college ball at Arizona State. His house is two blocks from the team hotel. The Yankees haven’t played a regular season game here since 2004, and an Arizona guy happens to be called up the day they return. Crazy.
• Girardi did not check with Alex Rodriguez before putting him in the lineup. The hope is for Rodriguez to play every game this road trip. “Can’t tell you for sure but that’s my hope,” Girardi said. “That was kind of the idea behind DH’ing him Saturday too, so it wouldn’t be six in a row.”
• Similar story with Derek Jeter. Girardi said he noticed Jeter hobbling a little bit on his sore right heel on Sunday, but Girardi is hopeful that he won’t have to take his shortstop out of the lineup out here.
• One other interesting note on adding left-handed hitting Curtis: The Diamondbacks have nothing but right-handers in the bullpen. So why not call up Juan Miranda? Girardi indicated Miranda might not have been called up at all this season had Curtis not been hurt at the end of April. “He was playing extremely well in spring training, he was playing extremely well in Scranton,” Girardi said. “Whether it would have been him or Miranda, I’m not sure at that time, but we just decided to go get him now.”
• What’s been wrong with A.J. Burnett this month? “He just hasn’t been able to get ahead in the count,” Girardi said. “His fastball has gotten too much of the middle of the plate at times. We’ve talked a lot the last few days about the importance of living on the edges.”
Kelly Johnson 2B
Stephen Drew SS
Justin Upton RF
Miguel Montero C
Chris Young CF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Gerardo Parra LF
Rodriguez Lopez RHP
Associated Press photos of Hughes, and of Girardi with Diamondbacks A.J. Hinch before tonight’s game.