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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Pregame notes: Significant progress for Hughes

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes on Jun 29, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

It’s been assumed — because Brian Cashman said so — that Phil Hughes would need one more rehab start before rejoining the big league rotation. But it seems that plan is not set in stone. Cashman was in Trenton today to watch Hughes go 6.1 innings, and Joe Girardi said the team is deciding whether they need to see any more.

“That’s something we’re in the process of discussing,” Girardi said. “Cash just got back from, I believe it was Trenton. We’ll discuss that over the next couple of days. He said it was night and day from the start before.”

Hughes was only so-so in his previous start, but this outing was sharp. Multiple reports say his fastball was generally in the low 90s, topping out at 94. Girardi said Hughes only threw a few changeups, but his cutter and curveball were sharp. All eight of his strikeouts were swinging.

“It was a good step,” Hughes told The Associated Press. “I went out today and did not even think about stuff. I know that’s what everybody wants to know about, but my last two outings, and even in the (simulated) games in Florida, my stuff was good. I trusted that it would be there and worried more about command, so that’s really what I was most concerned about.”

Hughes would be on turn to start on Monday, either for the Yankees in Cleveland or for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Lehigh Valley. Bartolo Colon is in New York and could start this weekend against the Mets, and Girardi said he’s begun thinking about what his rotation might look like with both Colon and Hughes healthy.

“We started for about 5-10 minutes before I came in here today,” Girardi said. “When they are both healthy, there are decisions that we’re going to have to make. We have a lot of people throwing the baseball good in our rotation, and that’s a good problem to have. We’re going to have to make some decisions.”

The first decision will be where to send Hughes for his next start.

“I just have to make sure I keep improving, getting all my pitches and making sure my location is good,” Hughes said. “I felt like I was throwing a lot more strikes and that was a good sign. Overall, I was just much more comfortable.”

• Colon is here, but the Yankees aren’t sure whether he’ll be activated this weekend. If he is activated, he’ll start Saturday against the Mets. If not, Brian Gordon will make that start. “We’re going to run him through some drills,” Girardi said. “Then we should know in a couple of days what we’re going to do with him. I have no answers on that yet, but he’s got to go through some drills for us.”

• Girardi said that right now, it’s either Colon or Gordon for Saturday’s start. As it stands, there is no third option.

• Derek Jeter once again ran the bases at less than full strength today in Tampa. “He basically just did the same thing (as yesterday),” Girardi said. “Ran the bases. Took ground balls. We don’t have a time table yet set for him, but he’s definitely going in the right direction.”

• Curtis Granderson fouled a ball off his right leg yesterday and had it wrapped after last night’s game. Girardi said he did not check with Granderson before posting the lineup, but he’ll check with him after batting practice.

• Alex Rodriguez has not hit a home run since June 11, but in those 14 homer-less games, he’s hit .408/.483/.531 with 14 RBI. “He’s been getting on base and driving in runs, and that’s basically his job in the spot where he hits in the order,” Girardi said. “He’s not trying to do too much. I think he’s taking what the pitcher is giving him. His average has been on a constant climb, and very pleased. His on-base percentage has been on a constant climb. Keeping the line moving is what he’s doing. But he’s also being very productive while he’s doing that.”

• If you’re looking for more on the Hughes rehab start in Trenton, go to my old friend Mike Ashmore’s blog. There’s an insane amount of information there, including video of every pitch and video of Hughes’ entire postgame press conference.

• Speaking of Mike’s blog, he notes that Melky Mesa has rejoined Trenton. He was sent to Tampa earlier this month, but that seems to have been largely to work his way back from injury.

• And speaking of Double-A: Austin Romine, Corban Joseph, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances made the Eastern League all-star team. I believe the International League all-stars will be announced later this week. The Pacific Coast League all-star team was announced today, including former Yankees utility man Cody Ransom. He’s hitting .321/.398/.632 with Reno in the Diamondbacks system.

UPDATE, 6:08 p.m.: Cashman agrees that Hughes might not need another rehab start. He also said it’s entirely possible Derek Jeter could begin a rehab assignment on Saturday, putting him back in the big league lineup during next week’s Cleveland series.

Rickie Weeks 2B
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Corey Hart RF
Mat Gamel DH
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C

Associated Press photos




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