Today’s pregame topic of discussion was pretty much the same as yesterday’s: What happens to Phil Hughes after tonight’s start? What happens if he pitches well? What happens if he struggles? Where would he go if he lost his spot in the rotation?
Joe Girardi’s answer to all of the above was basically the same: Wait and see.
“There’s a lot of things we gotta talk about,” Girardi said. “The best thing that could happen is that he pitches really well, and then we have a tough decision to make in what we’re going to do. There are some different scenarios. (Ivan) Nova really hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen as much, and we’re going to need a starter August 27 when we go to Baltimore, so you want someone built up. There are some things after today and tomorrow we’re going to have to talk about.”
Hughes has been hit-and-miss since he came off the disabled list. He’s had one really good start, one really bad start, and two so-so starts full of ups and downs. Nova was very good in his return from Triple-A, and he’ll get another start on Thursday to further plead his case.
When the Yankees cut their rotation down to five starters, the most obvious changes would involved Hughes to the bullpen or Nova back to Triple-A. Girardi hasn’t said those are his top options, but he does talk a lot about Hughes’ bullpen experience and the Yankees desire to have someone stretched out for that Baltimore double header.
“What I am saying is that you gotta have someone built up,” Girardi said. “Maybe it’s not even someone here to make that start on the 27th. We’re going to do what’s best for everyone involved, what we think is best for people’s futures, what’s best for this team now, and what’s best for this team in the future. I’m not saying one of them would necessarily go down.”
Basically, anything is possible. Both Hughes and Nova seem to know and accept that.
“I thought (Hughes) made some progress his last start,” Girardi said. “But I think his stuff can even get better. He can give us more distance. His curveball wasn’t as sharp in his last start. CC’s slider wasn’t as sharp (last night) as it’s been, but when it’s Phil, we gotta get this guy on a roll, too. He’s had his struggles this year, so more red flags go up. His curveball wasn’t as sharp and we gotta get that going… It’s something that we have to talk about. You watch how he throws tonight, and you just have to talk about it and decide what’s best for everyone involved.”
• Derek Jeter gave his usual, as-expected responses when asked about his finger. He said it’s fine. He didn’t test it before getting to the ball park today. He feels ready to go. You can pretty much fill in the rest.
• The forecast is no good. No good at all. Word is that the Yankees and White Sox would play a regular double header tomorrow if today’s game is rained out (not a split double header). So far, there’s no rain, but the sky is starting to get a little bit dark.
• Has this rotation situation gotten in Hughes’ head? “I haven’t really noticed it,” Girardi said. “But we pay attention to it if a guy’s trying to do something out there. I haven’t really noticed it.”
• Has it been tough to get Rafael Soriano innings since he came back? “It hasn’t been tough,” Girardi said. “We him in on Saturday. It would be a good thing if we needed him tonight. It hasn’t really been tough… We still want to continue to develop the arm strength, he’s had five appearances (counting rehab), but I think more would be beneficial for him.”
• Alex Rodriguez is still on schedule to begin rehab work on Thursday.
• It seems clear that Brett Gardner has lost platoon status and is now playing pretty much every day regardless of lefty/righty. “It is hard to take him out,” Girardi said. “Even on those days (when he used to sit), I didn’t necessarly want, to but I wanted to get Andruw going and I thought that was the best way to do it.
• Manny Banuelos makes his Triple-A debut tonight, and obviously the Yankees will be paying attention. “We’re looking at anyone and everyone who we feel can help us down this last 50 games or whatever we have left,” Girardi said.
Juan Pierre LF
Omar Vizquel 3B
Carlos Quentin DH
Adam Dunn 1B
Alexi Ramirez SS
A.J. Pierzynski C
Alex Rios CF
Alejandro De Aza RF
Gordon Beckham 2B
Associated Press photos