Phil Hughes has made three starts since coming off the disabled list. There was a so-so outing against the Indians, a good start against the Blue Jays and last week’s ugly performance against the A’s.
“I think it’s important for him to bounce back after the last start,” Joe Girardi said. “His pitches just weren’t crisp the last time like they were in Toronto. I think it’s important for him… The trade deadline does not enter my mind when we talk about Phil Hughes, does he solidify (his spot)? That doesn’t enter my mind. The bottom line is we’ve got to get this guy back to where he was last year, and how do we do that, and what’s the best approach? That’s what’s mostly in the back of my mind because we know what he’s capable of doing, and it’s getting him there.”
Hughes seemed to take a significant step forward with his improved curveball and improved fastball command in Cleveland, but those things weren’t evident in his 4.1 innings against Oakland on Friday.
Girardi has talked a lot about Hughes keeping a good downward plane on his fastball, and Girardi brought that up again this morning. Someone asked if swing-and-miss stuff would be a key this afternoon, but Girardi said that’s not exactly the case.
“That was part of what he did last year,” Girardi said. “I look at swings more than swings and misses. Are they squaring the ball up is the bottom line. You can have deception, have guys out front and they hit weak ground balls or weak pop ups. That’s a good sign. To me, it’s the quality of the swing more than the swings and misses.”
 • The Yankees decided not to activate Rafael Soriano for today’s game and will likely activate him on Friday. “With him throwing two days in a row, we feel it’s probably best in this situation – because he’s just coming off an injury – to give him two days,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of players on the disabled list, Girardi finally vocalized a truth that’s been pretty obvious for a while now: It’s time to give up on Pedro Feliciano pitching this year. “I would think so, yeah,” Girardi said. As it stands, Feliciano is still in Tampa, and Girardi said he’s “trying” to play catch. “He’s not doing much,” Girardi said.
• Damaso Marte is still throwing bullpens in Tampa, so he actually has some chance of playing some sort of role down the stretch.
• Girardi wasn’t sure when exactly, but Alex Rodriguez will do his early rehab work — taking batting practice and such — with the Yankees rather than at the minor league complex in Tampa. They Yankees have a date in mind that Rodriguez will join the Yankees to begin baseball activities, but Girardi couldn’t remember the exact day.
• The decision not to play Eric Chavez today: “It’s a day game after a night game and Chavy’s played seven out of eight days,” Girardi said. “We want o be smart about this. This is not a guy that we want to lose again.”
• The Yankees still haven’t announced starting pitchers for Saturday’s double header. Bartolo Colon will start one of them, but Girardi said the other game is still TBA. Ivan Nova is available to make the start — Girardi said health is not a concern for Nova — but the Yankees aren’t certain he’ll come up to pitch one of those games. “Just some things we’re talking about that we could do with our rotation,” Girardi said.
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