When Phil Hughes is on his regular routine, he throw two bullpens between starts. He takes a day off, throws a full bullpen, throws a light bullpen, takes another day off, then makes his next start.
This time he’s had a week and a half between starts, and Hughes has thrown four bullpens.
“I’m staying pretty even keel about it,” he said. “But inside I was a little excited because (the ball) was coming out really good in the bullpen. I don’t know if that’s because of the extra rest, but I guess tomorrow we’ll know the truth.”
Hughes said he and Larry Rothschild tinkered a little bit with mechanics — Hughes had been landing with his hips closed a little bit — but they also tweaked his curveball. Hughes used to throw a kind of loopy knucklecurve — he called a spike curve — but he’s changed to a more traditional grip, hoping to make it tighter with added velocity and bite.
“They said it’s been sharper in the bullpen,” Girardi said. “It’s one thing to do it out there. When you throw the emotions into it, that’s when the guys have to be able to make adjustments, and that’s why I don’t get too caught up with the bullpens and stuff like that.”
It’s been 10 days since Hughes returned from the disabled list and gave the Yankees an okay start in Cleveland. He gave up only two runs and didn’t allow an extra-base hit, but he also lasted only five innings and never really seemed to overwhelm hitters.
It wasn’t an overwhelming outing, but it was a significant step forward from the way Hughes was pitching in April.
“The stuff was okay,” he said. “I know it can be better. At the same time, I look back on how I actually pitched and it could have been a lot worse, results-wise. That part, you’re kind of happy and lucky to escape with two runs in five innings. I know I can be a lot better. My stuff can be better and my location can be better, so it’s just a matter of being out there and executing. I know my stuff is there. I don’t have to think about that any more. I can go out, work on executing every pitch and not try to grind it and satisfy people looking at the radar gun.”
Associated Press photo