Asked about his first career start in Anaheim, Phil Hughes didn’t go into detail.
“I didn’t do very well,” he said. “Hopefully (tonight) will be better than that one.”
Hughes hasn’t started a game in Angel Stadium since his rookie year, and a lot has changed since then. He’s been a setup man, an all-star starter, an injury concern and a borderline fifth starter, but right now he’s pitching well. In his past four starts, Hughes is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA.
Asked why, Joe Girardi didn’t follow Hughes’ example. He actually did go into detail.
“Two things,” Girardi said. “The command of his fastball and his changeup. I think his changeup has helped him a lot, and I think he’s going to have to throw it more and more, whether it’s to right handers or left handers. He has to throw it, because I think it’s really important for him.
“… He just believes in it. There’s a time and a place for it. You can’t say, I’m not going to throw it to right handers. There are hitters that are susceptible to it, and you use it. Throwing a changeup does not mean you’re not aggresiive, if it’s a pitch you can throw for strikes. A lot of times people think being aggressive is always throwing your fastball. I don’t. I think about throwing strikes and being ahead in the count. To me, that’s aggressiveness and however you have to do that, that’s fine. Not nibbling, not saying I have to make the perfect pitch. It’s saying, ‘Let me get ahead, down in the zone with something. It doesn’t have to be on the corner. It doesn’t have to be paint.’ And do it.”
• Brett Gardner took some dry swings today in Tampa, and he’ll swing again tomorrow, but Girardi said it will take at least another 10 days for Gardner to rejoin the Yankees lineup. He still has to hit of a tee, then take light batting practice, then full batting practice, then a rehab assignment. “I think he changes our lineup, the speed that he provides an his ability to create runs,” Girardi said. “But still, everyone’s going to have to hit and contribute, but he does give you a little bit different element than the rest of our team.”
• Dave Robertson played catch today and again had no problems. Girardi said he didn’t have Robertson’s exact rehab schedule, but he was pretty sure Robertson was scheduled to play catch again tomorrow. Still no mound work for him.
• Goes without saying that Russell Martin says he’s fine. That’s why he’s back in the lineup.
• Torii Hunter has been away from the Angels while his son has been involved in a criminal investigation in Texas. He could return to the lineup this week, but he’s not in it tonight. Mike Trout is in left field, Mark Trumbo in right and Kendrys Morales at DH.
• It’s worth noting that the Yankees current five-game winning streak has come with the team’s starting pitcher getting the decision in all five games. “Any time that they can shut a club down, it’s a lot easier to win a game,” Girardi said. “You don’t have to score as many runs. They’ve been a big part of it, and the bullpen has come in and done a nice job too.”
Associated Press photos