Just like everyone else, Phil Hughes is searching for answers. He’s well aware of the results, and he’s well aware that his fastball doesn’t have the life he’s come to expect. That said, Hughes said he feels fine, perfectly healthy. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said he doesn’t see any sort of mechanical issue, and if it were mechanical, he believes Hughes would see significant velocity peaks and valleys.
“I don’t necessarily think it’s tiredness,” Rothschild said. “The arm strength hasn’t been there all spring. There’s a history of it from the past, but you’d like to see it at some point pretty soon.”
Truth is, there might not be an answer. Rothschild said the Yankees tried to lighten Hughes’ workload this spring, but it had no impact. Hughes said it was hard to trust spring results, because he saw a velocity spike when he finally joined the big league rotation last year. Right now, it seems everyone’s best bet is that the velocity will come back as a matter of course.
“I don’t think this is something you’re going to see all year,” Rothschild said. “At least I would hope not. I don’t know if he’s lost it or just hasn’t built up all the way yet. Some guys are slower like that, and he’s clearly right now one of them.”
Joe Girardi said he wouldn’t rule out the idea of skipping a start in hopes that extra rest will make a difference, but right now there are no plans to do so.
“It’s possible he could get an extra day here, or there’s some different things we could do, but right now, no,” Giradi said. “I want to get him back out there, get him right, and get him going… If you want to last a long time, you have to figure out how to mentally grind through things, and how to get through situations, and I saw him do it a number of times last year. I saw this kid take big steps last year, and I’m not willing to say those steps are gone just because of two starts. There’s going to be starts where you struggle. You might have a bad couple starts, you might have a bad month. And you’ve got to find a way to fight through it.”
As usual in his small Fenway office, it was pretty much impossible to hear Girardi postgame, so here’s Rothschild speaking after tonight’s game.
• Bartolo Colon said he actually felt better as the game progressed. It’s hard to overstate just how good he was. “Bartolo was just really locating his fastball well, to both sides of the plate,” catcher Russell Martin said. “His first two, three innings, I think we threw one off-speed pitch. He’s just got a really nasty comeback two-seamer that he can throw in on lefties, and they really don’t know what to do with it. If they hit it, it’s going to be foul. When he locates it, it’s going to be tough to hit.”
• A shining example of how unreliable the win and loss stats are, especially given a one-game sample size: Colon took the loss this afternoon and John Lackey got the win. Their lines:
Colon: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Lackey: 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
• Phil Hughes isn’t the only Yankees pitcher struggling. Boone Logan is the only left-hander in the pen, and today he allowed a pivotal double and two-run single to David Ortiz and J.D. Drew. “It’s not fun going out there and not doing your job, giving up hits to lefties, walking lefties,” Logan said. “My job is to get them all out, and I’m not doing any of that right now.”
• Logan has pitched in three games. He’s been charged with a run in all of them — one was unearned — and he’s allowed five hits while getting just four outs. The problem starts with his slider. “I need to locate my four-seam also, but my slider is my pitch everything else comes off of,” Logan said. “… I just gotta quit aiming the ball and just let it go. Quit thinking about it.”
• Just to close the book on Yankees pitchers today: Dave Robertson looked pretty good in a scoreless eighth. He allowed one hit, a single. He threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes.
• Alex Rodriguez’s third home run of the season was his 50th career home run against the Red Sox. No active player has more home runs against Boston. Rodriguez has more career home runs against the Angels (67), Orioles (54) and Blue Jays (52).
• Speaking of Rodriguez, today’s home run gave him 1,836 career RBI, tying him with Ken Griffey Jr. — and move him past Rafael Palmeira — for 13th on baseball’s all-time RBI list.
• Speaking of success against Boston: Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 with two doubles, raising his career batting average at Fenway to .362, fifth highest all-time among visiting players. That’s also the highest career average for any player in a Yankees uniform at Fenway with a minimum of 200 at-bats. That’s according to Elias and passed along by the Red Sox.
• On the flip side: Hughes has an 8.47 career ERA at Fenway, his worst of any Major League park.
• Nick Swisher’s run-scoring groundout in the third inning gave him 500 RBI for his career. He’s driven in a run in five of the Yankees seven games this season.
• If it wasn’t Colon, the Yankees star of the day was certainly Brett Gardner, who had a double, a triple, two walks, an RBI, a stolen base and made some fine plays in the outfield.
• I didn’t get over there to talk to him — I was focused on the pitchers — but Mark Teixeira was one of a handful of position players who stuck around long after the game to talk to the media. Hard to blame guys for wanting to leave quickly today (as you’ll see in the last note) but Teixeira stuck around to talk after his fifth-inning error. I thought I’d mention that since accountability became an issue earlier this week.
• Looking for a little insult to injury? The water was messed up in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway, so the Yankees couldn’t shower after the game. They had to dress in their regular clothes, leave the park and — I hope — shower at the hotel.
Associated Press photos