As Joe Girardi held court with the writers this afternoon, there was a fairly preliminary conversation about what he’s looking for out of Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. The consensus seems to be that — as long as everyone is healthy — the fifth spot in the rotation will be between those two.
“You’ve been kind of taught, don’t get too caught up in the numbers in spring training,” Girardi said. “I’ve heard that preached for a long, long time, and I try not to get too caught up in it.”
In a lot of ways, that means two different things for the two different pitchers.
In Garcia’s case, it’s about trusting the track record. Garcia is typically a poor performer in spring training, but the Yankees know what to expect from him in the regular season. He’s more of a known quantity. The best-case scenario might not be as good, but the worst-cast scenario probably isn’t as bad. For Hughes, it’s about watching the stuff instead of the results. He might give up a hit on a changeup, for example, largely because he’s throwing a changeup in a situation that clearly calls for something else. He has to be able to work on things without needing immediate results, and the Yankees have to be able to judge for themselves whether he’s making strides.
Girardi on Garcia: “His history has been, don’t judge him by spring training. That’s been Freddy’s history. I have a pretty clear idea what we’re going to get from Freddy. I’ve told you, Freddy competes. That’s the bottom line about Freddy. You know that he’s going to go out there, and he’s not going to panic when runners are on, and he’s going to make his pitches, and he’s got a lot of different weapons. Spring training, sometimes it takes a little while to get those all going. I think it is a little more comforting knowing him after last year… His history has been he’s not going to go out and put up a 1.00 ERA. He’s just going to get his work done and get ready for the season. He was so good last year for us.”
Girardi on Hughes: “I need to see his fastball, the location of it. The sharpness of his curveball, the command of his cutter and continued improvement on his changeup. He got behind the eight ball last year because he was hurt. His velocity slowly seemed to tick up a little bit, and that seemed to be the focus of a lot of people, but he needs to locate and get back to where he can put people away… To me it’s just watching how the ball is coming out of his hand and the deception that he has. (That) is more important to me than the actual numbers.”
Associated Press photo