The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Friday notes: Hughes takes a step forward

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes on Mar 16, 2012 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Phil Hughes pitched well today. He went four scoreless innings, struck out three, walked none and showed improved fastball command. I saw one fastball clocked at 94 mph. But this wasn’t necessary a good day for a pitcher trying to win a spot in the rotation.

“I love Andy,” Hughes said. “He’s awesome. I worry about the things I can control and that’s it. All I can control is the work I do, the work I do out on the field. … What’s going to happen is going to happen. I’m just going to do all that I can do and that’s it. Andy has been here before, I’ve been in this situation before and that’s the end of it. Everyone in here is excited for him to come back. You could tell when he was here (as an instructor) that he wanted to come back. I think everyone kind of had an idea at some point — we didn’t know it was going to be the next week — but it is what it is.”

Andy Pettitte is expected to arrive in Yankees camp on Tuesday. He’ll need to go through a standard six-to-seven-week spring training, which makes early May a reasonable time target for him to contribute at the big league level.

“Andy’s not going to affect how we go north because Andy’s not going north with us,” Brian Cashman said.

But certainly Pettitte affects this rotation competition. He basically assures that the competition will continue well into the season.

“You never know, we might need all seven,” Joe Girardi said. “Who knows? But that’s a bridge we have to cross when we get there. Might end up having seven guys throw well, and then I’ve really got some tough decisions to make, but we’ll work through it and sort through it. And we’ve got some time.”

Hughes has looked good this spring, and today he was particularly sharp. Girardi said he never even checked on Hughes’ velocity because he was happy with the swings he was getting. He thought the ball was getting on hitters quickly, and he thought his offspeed stuff was good.

“I worked all my pitches,” Hughes said. “Didn’t throw as many cutters, threw more changeups today, which was good. That was something I wanted to do. My breaking ball was good and I felt like my fastball was coming out of my hand pretty well. I’ve been talking about making a step every time I go out there and today was another step.”

Couldn’t blame the guy, though, if he heard some footsteps coming up behind him.

• Joe Girardi said it was strictly a precaution, but Nick Swisher went for an MRI today. “This could just be soreness and they’re ruling everything out,” Girardi said. “He said he felt good today.” This morning, Swisher said he could have played if this were the regular season. He seemed completely unconcerned.

• Russell Martin’s tightness isn’t exactly in his groin. It’s kind of between his groin and his hamstring, and it’s something he once felt in spring training with the Dodgers. He didn’t speak up that time and wound up with a legitimate injury, so he decided to play it safe this time. He sounded a lot like Swisher: Just feels like he’s being cautious with something minor.

• Mariano Rivera was listed as one of today’s pitchers and Girardi said pregame that Rivera would be pitching. “I think it was a mix up,” Girardi said. “It’s tomorrow.”

• Upcoming rotation:

Saturday: Hiroki Kuroda
Sunday: Ivan Nova
Monday: Off day
Tuesday: Michael Pineda
Wednesday: Phil Hughes
Thursday: David Phelps (CC Sabathia in the minors)
Friday: Hiroki Kuroda (home), Ivan Nova (road)

• CC Sabathia pitched three innings today. He allowed three runs on six hits while striking out two. “I felt pretty good,” Sabathia said. “The fastball was all over the place, the command was a little bit off and we’re still working.”

• Sabathia on the addition of Pettitte to the rotation competition: “Hopefully everybody steps their game up and makes it a tough decision. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Use that as a challenge to go out and make yourself better.”

• Alex Rodriguez hit his second spring homer this afternoon. It was a two-run shot in the fifth inning that tied the game at 3. The Yankees other extra-base hit was an RBI double by Robinson Cano in the first inning.

• The Yankees won 4-3 in 10 innings. Justin Maxwell led off with a walk, took third on an error and scored the winning run on a sac fly by Brandon Laird. Chase Whitley, who pitched a scoreless top of the 10th, got the win.

• Rafael Soriano and Cesar Cabral each threw scoreless innings.

• Former Yankees pitcher Tyler Clippard pitched a hitless inning for the Nationals. He struck out Colin Curtis.

• Zoilo Almonte was certainly not one of the top prospects in camp, but he made a fast impression. “Loved the way he swung the bat,” Girardi said. “I think his left-handed swing is ahead of his right-handed swing, but I think that will catch up. He had a nice opportunity to talk to Bernie about it, which I think could be a real positive factor because Bernie was successful from both sides, and Bernie talked about how, when you hit, you’re going to see more left-handed at-bats and how much harder you have to work right-handed to be prepared.”

Associated Press photos




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