Facing a group of low-level minor leaguers this afternoon, Phil Hughes was exactly what the Yankees have come to expect this spring. His fastball sat at 91-92 mph, reaching 93 several times and topping out at 94. He was able to make adjustments after a two-run third inning, his curveball was a swing-and-miss pitch, one scout who watched him was impressed with his changeup.
“It’s come a long way,” the scout said.
All told, Hughes went six innings. He allowed two runs on six hits — both runs and half of the hits came in that shakey third inning — while walking none and striking out four.
“Whatever direction they want to go in, it’s their call,” Hughes said. “I feel like right now, I’m doing everything I can to make that decision as hard as possible. That’s all I really wanted to do.”
Larry Rothschild said Hughes came into this start wanting to work on his curveball and his changeup to right-handers. Rothschild was happy with both and said Hughes has improved with every start.
“He’s done everything we asked him to do as far as the offseason coming in and continuing to work, and work on the things he needed to,” Rothschild said. “In that aspect, he did what we wanted him to do. … I think as far as setting things up the way he wanted to, he’s done a good job of that.”
Of course, the Yankees aren’t ready to make a rotation decision just yet. Rothschild said he’s trying to keep himself from making any sort of judgment at this point. He’s focused on getting his pitchers ready, and as of right now, he has no “top five list” in his head.
“Believe it or not, I don’t,” Rothschild said. “Really, for me, I try to leave it all open and not think about the different things until we get to the point where we’re going to make the decision. I need to start looking at the other stuff now and how it fits together and things like that, but really, at least for my train of thought, it’s better to leave that stuff aside and just look at what we need to do and what guys need to do to get better to that, at the end, you can evaluate them better.”
Hughes on whether pitching against minor leaguers was significantly different than facing big leaguers: “Early on, I was getting hurt on mistakes, so there was no difference there. When I made good pitches, I got good results. It wasn’t anything entirely different. (At times) I wasn’t making a bunch of good pitches and they were fighting them off and having good at-bats, so I don’t think it was any different.”