Phil Hughes is scheduled to throw 45-50 pitches this afternoon, and there’s time for him to make two more starts before he’s needed in the big leagues. But the disabled list might be inevitable.
“Don’t assume, but my guess is that he’s going to need some more pitching beside these next two starts,” manager Joe Girardi said. “… We’ve got a week to go and I can’t tell you what our need is going to be in a week. That’s the thing. That’s why I don’t want to say yeah, he’s definitely going to do it because things could change real quick.”
Pitching every five days, Hughes would be on schedule to start April 6. Conveniently, that would be the fifth game of the season. Also convenient: That’s the first day a player could be activated from a backdated disabled list stint (a backdated DL assignment can start as early as March 22, which is today).
Basically, there’s little reason not to put Hughes on the disabled list to start the season.
“You could do that,” Girardi said. “Hypothetically we could do that. It’s not a problem. We could take an extra bullpen guy or do what you want to do.”
Even without the logistics, there might be another reason to have Hughes start on the disabled list. Girardi said he wants to make sure Hughes can throw 90-plus pitches when he makes his first big league start. Three starts might be enough for Hughes to get there, but it might also feel rushed, and Girardi has said time and time again that it’s better to have Hughes miss one start than to rush him into the rotation. That’s especially true with David Phelps stretched out and ready to take a start.
“Just depends on how (Hughes) is throwing,” Girardi said. “It would be nice to do that to make sure they’re built up. … I really want to see how he does these next two starts before I really say where he’s going to be. He’s got the start today, and he’ll have another five days later. Let’s see how many pitches and how far he goes.”
• Clay Rapada threw 15 fastballs off a mound this morning, but… “My guess is Rapada is going to start on the DL,” Girardi said. Rapada said he wants to make sure he’s able to pitch several days in a row before being activated. “If I’m not fully healthy, I don’t want to set back the team,” Rapada said. “I don’t feel like I’m very far off.”
• With Hughes and Rapada candidates for the disabled list, which relievers standout? Girardi wouldn’t really say. “All of these guys have a chance that are in camp,” he said. “We’ll continue to evaluate this next week and how each guy fits in your bullpen, their strengths and their weaknesses.”
• Is Vidal Nuno in the mix? “He’s a possibility, yeah,” Girardi said.
• Francisco Cervelli is going down to the complex to catch Hiroki Kuroda this afternoon. Not sure who’s catching Phil Hughes, but it will be one of the minor league guys. Bobby Wilson was hit in the finger by a foul tip yesterday and won’t catch today.
• Girardi said, once again, that he has no plans of batting Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki — in any order — in the 1-2-3 spots in the lineup.
• Today’s second string: C Francisco Arcia, 1B Dan Johnson, 2B Corban Joseph, SS Gil Velazquez, 3B Walter Ibarra, LF Jose Pirela, CF Ramon Flores, RF Addison Maruszak
• Today’s scheduled relievers: Jim Miller, Preston Claiborne, Branden Pinder, Josh Spence, Juan Cedeno
• Up from minor league camp: RHP Kelvin Perez, RHP Tom Kahnle, RHP Ryan Pope, RHP Craig Heyer, LHP Fred Lewis, C Francisco Arcia, C Jeff Farnham, INF Reegie Corona and OF Ramon Flores are making today’s trip to Fort Myers.
• Tomorrow’s travel squad:
Pitchers: Preston Claiborne, Cody Eppley, Shawn Kelley, Jim Miller, Andy Pettitte, Branden Pinder, Josh Spence
Catchers: Chris Stewart, Bobby Wilson
Infielders: Travis Hafner, Walter Ibarra, Dan Johnson, Corban Joseph, Addison Maruszak, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Pirela, Gil Velazquez, Kevin Youkilis
Outfielders: Brennan Boesch, Brett Gardner, Melky Mesa, Ronnier Mustelier, Thomas Neal, Juan Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki
Associated Press photos