Phil Hughes said this start was a lot like his previous start. The home run he allowed was on a flat cutter, his fastball command took another step forward and his changeup was inconsistent but effective. He called the outing a step in the right direction.
“The changeup was not great tonight,” he said. “But I threw a couple of quality ones and I just have to be sure that I continue to use it and not fall into that pattern that I did last year.”
For Hughes, the changeup is old news, but it’s also an ongoing situation. Hughes was happy with the changeup when he left camp last spring, then he neglected to use it through the first half of the regular season. This spring he hasn’t been quite as thrilled with the pitch, but he said he’s more committed to using it. He’s seen enough results to know it can be effective.
“I’m going to (throw it) just because I’m going to force myself to,” Hughes said. “Last year I didn’t do that. It might not have been outstanding today, but I’ll have days when it’s good. I saw some results tonight on it. The few I did throw to neutralize those bats that really got to me last year, Joyce and Johnson stand out, those are two guys that really hurt me because they were sitting on fastballs.”
Oddly enough, Joe Girardi singled out the changeup as one of the things he liked about Hughes outing.
“I know people harp on that changeup a lot,” Girardi said. “But he had it at the end of last year and it’s just a continuation.”
• Joe Torre said his return to Steinbrenner Field was a trip he’d been looking forward to making, and it was made more comfortable by the fact he returned to Yankee Stadium last season. “I don’t think the emotion will ever go out of it because of what these 12 years meant to me that I spent here,” he said. “But it’s not sad by any stretch of the imagination; it was a great run. You cant appreciate the good times unless there were some bumps along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing. The last three years were stressful, but that’s all part of it.”
• Torre has been invited to Old Timers’ Day and he plans to attend, which means he’ll be back in pinstripes this year. “Whatever (uniform) they give me,” he said. “As long as they don’t ask me to play, it’s okay. I never did that in a Yankee uniform.”
• I didn’t see it, but the word around the stadium was that Yogi Berra tripped again today, only this time he was caught by Rays manager Joe Maddon. Berra is fine.
• Alex Rodriguez has a home run in three straight games, and he has a hit in each of his 11 games this spring. He’s batting .406.
• Nick Swisher’s go-ahead home run in the seventh inning was only his second extra-base hit of the spring. He’s had more at-bats than anyone else in Yankees camp. The Yankees got the win, 3-2.
• Hughes said he wasn’t too down on himself for the first-inning run. He jammed Johnny Damon, who fought off a single, then Hughes thought he struck out Evan Longoria on a 2-2 fastball but he didn’t get the call. “That run I can get out of my head a little easier than a cutter that was flat and just a bad pitch 0-2,” he said.
• Appearing in a game for the first time since March 4, left-handed reliever Boone Logan allowed two hits but ultimately pitched a scoreless seventh inning. The Yankees had his velocity up to 92-93 mph, a nice step forward from his earlier spring outings. “Sometimes that little extra rest in this period is good for guys,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of Logan: He faced four lefties, striking out Matt Joyce and John Jaso, getting Dan Johnson to fly out and getting Reid Brignac to hit a ground ball to second that went for an infield single.
• The Yankees had only three hits tonight, but two were home runs. The third was a triple by Curtis Granderson, who was left stranded. Of the Yankees five base runners — Robinson Cano walked twice — three scored.
• Joba Chamberlain came through this morning’s throwing just fine and will likely throw a bullpen this weekend. That’s the plan right now, anyway. “See how he feels tomorrow, but today was good,” Girardi said.
• Everything is still on track for Sergio Mitre to pitch tomorrow. He felt fine after yesterday’s bullpen. “It feels like it’s been a long time,” Mitre said.
• Romulo Sanchez has hard-to-hit stuff, but his command is erratic. Tonight he walked three in two-thirds of an inning, but Steve Garrison bailed him out with the final out of the eighth. Luis Ayala pitched the ninth for the save.
Associated Press photos, the one in the middle is of Berra and Girardi with Don Zimmer, at the top is Swisher signing autographs. That’s Hughes at the bottom. And I have no idea why I labeled them in that order, but I’m sticking with it.