The Yankees have already made one change to their rotation, and time is running out for Phil Hughes to make the case that he shouldn’t be the next to go.
“I don’t know how he thinks about it,” Joe Girardi said this afternoon. “I really just want him to focus on what he needs to do as opposed to focusing on who’s lingering. There are no guarantees. We expected Pineda to be in our rotation and look at what happened. I’m sure it’s probably on his mind some, but I’m sure what’s more on his mind is he’s probably frustrated with where he’s at right now, and probably believes he’s a much better pitcher than he’s shown, and probably wants to get there.”
Andy Pettitte will get at least one more minor league start before joining the big league rotation, but it’s clear that the Yankees plan to have him in their rotation fairly soon. CC Sabathia’s going nowhere, Hiroki Kuroda has pitched well lately and Ivan Nova hasn’t lost since the middle of last season. As long as everyone stays healthy, it seems natural that Pettitte will knock eight Hughes or David Phelps out of the mix.
Hughes enters tonight’s start with a 7.88 ERA. The current Orioles have hit .225/.254/.405 in their careers against him.
“I really believe it’s the location of his fastball,” Girardi said, “to where it’s not running back and he’s not missing over the thirds and in the middle as opposed to if you miss, you miss away or you miss in. I think that has a lot to do with it. … I think part of it is his mechanics, too, in a sense. That attack mode, his mechanics and being more aggressive. The idea is to put hitters on the defensive, get ahead of them and make quality pitches. If he feels he needs to be more in the attack mode to do that, then yeah. That’s what he did as a reliever. He was very successful as a reliever and I thought he brought that attitude as a starter when he came back in 2010.”
• Girardi said, as far as he knew, everything went as planned with Michael Pineda’s surgery. “I know the rehab doesn’t start right now, but it starts now, basically,” Girardi said. “We’re anxious to get this guy back. Now he’s on the road to recovery.”
• Brett Gardner is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday, but it’s now looking unlikely that he’ll actually be activated that day. The Yankees want him to play at least one minor league game before coming off the DL. “He’s supposed to do more stuff today,” Girardi said. “We’re going to see where he’s at after today. We’re starting to get to a point where Thursday might be a little doubtful just because he has to go play a game or two.”
• Although Nick Swisher wants to be back sooner rather than later, the Yankees aren’t counting on getting him back until at least a week has passed. Seems unlikely that he’ll be ready in Kansas City. He’s still a few days away from beginning baseball activities. “I believe we’ll have him back Tuesday,” Girardi said. “If we get him back sooner, would I be happy? Absolutely.”
• The Yankees face left-handed starters the first two days in Kansas City. Girardi said it’s possible Eduardo Nunez will be a regular outfielder for those days, but he might also need to give Derek Jeter a day off, which would almost certainly mean both Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones in the same starting outfield.
• Why not start either Ibanez or Eric Chavez today? Right handers are hitting .333/.424/.514 against Brian Matusz this season. Left-handers are hitting .154/.214/.154. “It’s just kind of a way to get all my righties in the lineup,” Girardi said. Ibanez is the emergency catcher. He caught in the low minors.
• Freddy Garcia is available out of the bullpen tonight.
• Andy Pettitte has been testifying during the Roger Clemens trial today in Washington. Girardi said Pettitte migth get an extra day and make his next minor league start on Sunday rather than Saturday, and it’s unclear whether that will be his final minor league tuneup. “That has to be determined by the people that are watching him,” Girardi said. “I get reports, but my eyes aren’t on him to exactly know what’s going on.”
• According to The Associated Press, this was part of Pettitte’s testimony today: “Roger had mentioned to me that he had taken HGH,” Pettitte said. “And that it could help with recovery, and that’s really all I remember about the conversation.”
Endy Chavez LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis 1B
Wilson Betemit 3B
Nick Johnson DH
Robert Andino 2B
Associated Press photos