Phil Hughes’s velocity was still a hot topic this afternoon, with Joe Girardi saying he believes Hughes can still succeed even if he’s not throwing as hard as he has in the past. Girardi cited Jamie Moyer and Mike Mussina as pitchers who had plenty of success without an overpowering fastball, saying, “We can talk until we’re blue in the face about velocity, but Jamie Moyer is winning throwing 84 mph, 82 mph. Velocity becomes more important when you’re not locating because you’re going to get away with pitches, but if you locate, you can pitch at 90, 89, 91. You can do it. We saw Mike Mussina win 20 games and he topped out at 88.”
Wally Matthews questioned Girardi about the comparison to Moyer – rightfully, I thought – since Hughes and Moyer are, obviously, very different types of pitchers, and Girardi said he ultimately doesn’t want Hughes thinking about velocity at all. “I don’t want him to try to do is pitch to the gun,” Girardi said, “because if you try to get to 94, you’re not going to get there.”
Girardi also pointed out that Hughes, who topped out at 91 mph yesterday, was never higher than 94 mph as a starter last year. The 96 mph stuff Hughes showed came when he was a reliever, and Girardi believes Hughes can be just fine even if his velocity doesn’t tick back up. “Sure he can,” Girardi said. “He has four pitches that he can use and he has to mix and he has to locate.”
Also, just to reiterate: Girardi said there has been no indication that Hughes has any kind of physical/injury issue.
• Guess the Lineup Alert: Andruw Jones will make his first start for the Yankees tomorrow against Twins lefty Brian Duensing with Brett Gardner or Curtis Granderson getting a day off. Derek Jeter will lead off, Girardi said.
• Could be a busy week for Boone Logan with the lefty-heavy Twins in town for four and then a weekend trip to Boston. “He could get a lot of work this week and we have to be smart about it,” Girardi said.
• Are you freaking out about the slow starts from Jeter and Gardner? Well, Girardi isn’t. “These guys are going to get their hits, that’s’ the bottom line,” he said. “I don’t worry too much about two days. Obviously, you’d like to see them get on two or three times every day, but we know that’s not going to happen. You just tell them to keep swinging.”
• In case you didn’t get enough velocity talk with Hughes, there was also a question about Joba Chamberlain’s velocity. His pitches were slightly lower over the weekend as well, topping out at 95 mph when he’d hit 97 mph in spring. Girardi’s explanation? “Sometimes the weather had something to do with that. We had a hot spring. You felt like you were in the middle of the summer when you were in spring training.”
• One more from Pedro Feliciano, on whether or not the Mets “abused” him over the past few seasons: “I want to pitch, I want to be on the mound always. I think some points they just leave me in there for no reason, but I want to pitch. I want to be in there.”