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Pregame notes: Concern for Hughes

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[2]Before Phil Hughes went into the bullpen this afternoon, the Yankees were already discussing a date for the rehab start that would follow. They were confident today’s bullpen was nothing but a final step toward getting him back in a game.

After only a handful of pitches, Hughes knew the rehab start would have to wait.

“It was probably after about 10 or 12 pitches,” Hughes said. “The first few felt all right and then it’s just like, nothing there. It’s sort of the feeling you get after 110 or 115 pitches that I normally should feel that way, but it’s just way too soon.”

Hughes will see Dr. Christopher Ahmad, but he said he’s still convinced he’s healthy, just suffering an extended dead-arm period. Dr. Ahmad is supposed to be at the stadium later today, and he’ll check on the situation. Up to this point, Hughes has had no tests.

“He had a history of starting off kind of slow (with his) velocity,” Joe Girardi said. “You kind of go by guy’s history, and we saw him get to 92 the other day. As a starter last year he was 90 to 94 mostly, 90 to 93. You felt like, ok, it’s coming back, it’s coming back. It’s just not repeating itself. He’s not to where he needs to be, but when something like this happens where there’s a setback, there is concern.”

As Girardi pointed out, the Blue Jays have experienced almost the exact same thing with Brett Cecil, and last week Cecil was optioned to Triple-A to try to build arm strength and rediscover both his fastball and his command. [3]

“Guys have taken steps backward after being extended, more innings that they’re accustomed to doing,” Girardi said. “As I said, there is a level of concern here because everything seemed to be going in the right direction and it kind of halted a little bit today.”

Here’s Hughes. It’s easy to hear his disappointment.

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[5]• Pedro Feliciano was here today, far more encouraged than the last time we saw him. Dr. James Andrews told Feliciano that he believes this is an old issue that, for whatever reason, just started to bother him. “We’re just going to follow the word Dr. Andrews says from experience,” Feliciano said. “Before he got pitchers that got the same injury – capsule injuries – and he just put them in rehab and it works. Why not do that and avoid the surgery and try to pitch again (this year)?”

• Speaking of pitching again, Rafael Soriano played catch today and Girardi said he would have to check with him before knowing whether he was available.

• Girardi also did not rule out using Mariano Rivera. “You’d like to be able to (avoid using him),” Girardi said. “But he might come in and say he feels great. He’s thrown 30 pitches before and thrown the next day. He had done that. It is early. I think the good thing is he had the four days off before this. You try to be smart about it, but you have to listen to the player too.”

• Who would close if neither Rivera nor Soriano were available? “I could go by matchups,” Girardi said. “I could put Joba there. I could put Robertson there. I could do either one.”

• Brian Costello says Francisco Cervelli will catch for Tampa today and catch for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tomorrow. [6]

• Lance Pendleton has a name tag above his locker now. Still no name tag for Buddy Carlyle, though.

Juan Pierre LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Carlos Quentin RF
Paul Konerko 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Alex Rios CF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Brent Morel 3B

Associated Press photo of Hughes