If you’re in competition for the fifth spot in the rotation, but people keep talking about your proven ability to pitch out of the bullpen, it’s probably not encouraging to see your first spring outing will be in relief. You have to think Phil Hughes would like to distance himself from the bullpen talk, but his first spring appearance will be April 6, in relief of CC Sabathia.
Bad sign? Not really. Just a scheduling quirk. The Yankees have a split doubleheader five days later, so Hughes will be on turn to make a start on Saturday, March 11. Nothing official, but you can bet Sabathia will start at home that day. Hughes will make the road trip to face the Twins.
“(Hughes) is going to pitch just like a starter would,” Joe Girardi said. “And if I have to warm up another reliever in between to get it like it’s a rotation, that’s what I’ll do. It just works out that we have a split-squad coming up, and you can match up the split-squad.”
Counting the days to Opening Day, the current schedule leaves Sabathia lined up to start the opener on one extra day of rest (an extra day that I suppose could come at any point this spring). Hughes is actually lined up to be one regular rest for the fifth game of the season, assuming he pitches some sort of game on the March 5 off day.
• To be honest, notes were pretty light here on photo day. The Yankees are definitely in the no-news-is-good-news phase of spring training. It’s too early to get a great read on how guys are doing, and the only real news usually involves setbacks and injuries. Girardi said no one was added to the injury list today.
• Robinson Cano will be away from camp for a couple of days. His grandmother died yesterday, so Cano has flown home.
• Girardi was on the main field to watch Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances throw batting practice. There’s still no radar gun on these guys, and they’re still knocking off some of the rust, but Hughes seemed to be keeping the ball down and Banuelos got some swings and misses. “I actually thought they all threw really well,” Girardi said. “For some of these kids, they’ve thrown a couple times. Betances and Banuelos, very happy with what I saw from them. Very happy with what I saw from Phil and Kuroda as well. Lot of strikes today, which is important.”
• Derek Jeter’s take on live batting practice: “I didn’t swing. No, I don’t like it. I get claustrophobic, man. The cage, the screen — everything seems like it’s too close. But it’s always been like that. Everyone seems like they’re throwing 200 mph.”
• Jeter took BP against Hughes, so let’s get those headlines ready: Jeter says Hughes throwing 200 mph!
• George Kontos has been cleared to resume throwing on Friday. After he plays catch with no problems, the Yankees will schedule a bullpen. Kontos said he feels 100 percent, but the Yankees are obviously giving him some extra time just to be sure.
• David Aardsma still hadn’t shown up in the clubhouse by the time it closed to media this afternoon, but he did have a uniform hanging in it. No word of any sort of delay for him, I just haven’t seen him.
• Still hoping that a bench job will open, Bill Hall worked at third base, second base and the outfield today. He was in the outfield and at third base for popup drills, and he went to second base to take grounders during batting practice. With Cano gone, Eduardo Nunez got some reps at second base today, and I saw Ramiro Pena getting work at both shortstop and third base. Jorge Vazquez also took some grounders at third today.
• Andy Pettitte said he’ll only be in town for a few days. Bernie Williams is also planning to show up as a guest instructor, but Girardi’s not sure when Williams is scheduled to be here.
• Does it make Jeter feel old to have old teammates like Pettitte and Williams in camp as guest instructors? “I feel the same age whether they’re here or not,” Jeter said. “I was always younger than all of them and I’ll always be younger than all of them.”
Associated Press photos (yes, some of the Photo Day pictures are apparently taken in the bathroom)