When A.J. Burnett struggled through the month of June, everyone seemed quick to match those bad outings with the absence of pitching coach Dave Eiland. Maybe that focus should have been directed elsewhere.
Phil Hughes also fell into a funk in June, and he’s also been turning a corner since Eiland — who’s coached him since the minor leagues — came back to the team. Hughes said he’s made a minor mechanical adjustment since Eiland returned, keeping his arm angle high so that he throws down through the ball.
“It’s kind of a problem that accumulated over the last few starts,” he said. “I was pushing the ball a little bit and Dave wasn’t around to really help me out noticing it. I kind of got away with it sometimes, but it wasn’t as crisp as I’d like it to be. I really tried to make that adjustment in my sides and I just felt a lot better (Friday).”
Joe Girardi raved about his fastball, and about the way Hughes has carried his bullpen power into the rotation. The Yankees have clocked Hughes fastball velocity being consistently higher than before his stint as a reliever.
“I think maturity, physically he’s gotten stronger,” Girardi said. “You think about him in 2008 he was pretty skinny, but he’s filled out. In 2008 he might have come into camp too skinny. He might have run too much coming into camp. Physically he’s a man now.”
Hughes didn’t talk about strength or maturity.
“I kind of got that confidence back last year,” he said. “I don’t think people really expected a ton out of me. I was a No. 5 starter (this season) and really all we needed were a solid four guys last year, and starting three in the playoffs, so maybe not all that much pressure was put on me. But I really felt a lot of pressure (from) myself that I could have a good year. So far so good. I do take pride in that, because the front office puts a lot of belief in you, and it’s kind of up to you to live up to that.”
Associated Press photo