Phil Hughes will face hitters on Saturday, and he hopes that will be his final step before beginning a rehab assignment.
“If I feel good after that, I’ll certainly encourage going on an assignment somewhere,” Hughes said.
This morning, Hughes went through his normal pregame warmup, then threw a bullpen with Larry Rothschild standing near the plate as a kind of stand-in, bat-free hitter. Hughes said he threw a total of 50 or so pitches, and although the Yankees didn’t have a radar gun in the bullpen, Joe Girardi said the results were encouraging.
“Larry said it’s coming out better, definitely coming out better,” Girardi said. “… You’re getting really close to pitching in a game, simulated game or something like that. Larry said it was good today. Normal warm up, he sat, and basically threw an inning. And that’s a good sign. So the progression is going better this time than it went last time for sure.”
Girardi said a rehab assignment is up to Rothschild and the Yankees medical staff. The Yankees might prefer that Hughes throw a second live batting practice, but Girardi seemed to agree with Hughes that it was at least possible a rehab assignment could come immediately after Saturday’s live BP.
“I would love to have him back, the guy we had last year,” Girardi said.
• The tarp just came off the field. The consensus here seems to be that things should be clear early, but if this game goes long, weather could become an issue. They’ll do all the can to play today, though. The A’s are flying to Boston tomorrow and the Yankees are flying to Anaheim tonight.
• Russell Martin is wearing extra padding around his sore toe, and he has a hard cover over his shoe to protect his foot from another foul tip. At this point, it’s all about pain tolerance. “That’s pretty much what you go through as a catcher the whole year, what you can tolerate?” Girardi said.
• By the way, Martin’s fingernails are bright yellow. Maybe that’s not new, but this is the first I noticed it.
• Nick Swisher is 3-for-7 in his career against Gio Gonzalez. That’s the highest batting average of any Yankee against the A’s starter, and that’s why he’s batting ahead of Martin this afternoon.
• Is A.J. Burnett in line for a bounceback start? “I look at it as a start where we’ve got our starters on a roll against and they’re kind of competing against one another, who’s going to go the longest, that sort of thing,” Girardi said. “I’d love for him to go deep into the game. That’s what we want. And when he’s doing that, he’s pitching obviously very well and his pitch count is down. As far as a bounceback, he left with a lead and he gave up two runs in five innings. It’s not exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s not like he had a bad start.”
• Girardi said he’ll start really thinking about Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit after he pulls within five, because at that point it’s at least conceivable that it could happen in a single game. “There are a lot of chances he’ll have five at-bats,” Girardi said. “So I think once you get within that five realm, that’s when it’s going to be really exciting.”
Associated Press photo