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Pregame notes: “It was kind of out of necessity”

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The Yankees didn’t necessarily need a starter for today’s game, but they needed a pitcher, and a starter was the easiest thing to add given the circumstances. That’s why Phil Hughes arrived five days earlier than expected, bumping David Phelps to the bullpen and replacing Cody Eppley, who was optioned to Triple-A.

“We don’t really have a long guy if we start Phelpsy today,” Joe Girardi said. “So we felt if something were to happen with Phelpsy, we’d have a little trouble there because we don’t want to use Warren yet, couldn’t use Kelley because of what he did yesterday, so you became really short. So it was kind of out of necessity. We wanted (Hughes) to make one more start, but he’s going to make it here.”

Hughes pitched seven innings in an extended spring training game on Monday. He was supposed to pitch in a Triple-A game strictly for preparation, not because he physically needed it.

“Just giving him one more start, so it’s more of a normal spring training for him in a sense,” Girardi said. “But we weren’t afforded that luxury.”

So, does this mean Phelps is the long man the rest of the way? Not necessarily, Girardi said. Phelps may be the go-to multi-inning guy today, but with Adam Warren still on the roster, the Yankees don’t have to save Phelps for those long-relief situations.

“I’ll use him as more a bridge guy,” Girardi said. “I can use him in a lot of different roles because was have Warren.”

[3]• Eduardo Nunez said he would try to hit in the cage today, but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do it. He wasn’t even going to attempt to play catch. “If I can hit, I can pinch hit,” Nunez said. “But for sure I don’t think I can throw today.” Girardi said he’s considering Nunez strictly a pinch runner today.

• Francisco Cervelli is catching, so he won’t take any ground balls pregame, but he’s the emergency infielder should something happen at second, third or short. Brennan Boesch has done a few first base drills and would be the backup should something happen to Lyle Overbay.

• Why no Ichiro Suzuki? “Just a day off,” Girardi said.

• It certainly seems that Derek Jeter’s rehab has been set back roughly two months. He took ground balls on the edge of the grass today, and as Bryan Hoch notes, that’s what he was doing way back in early to mid February. [4] “Well, he’s on the field,” Girardi said. “I mean, he is on the field. He took some ground balls at him, so that’s better than where he was last week, or even Thursday.”

• Curtis Granderson is still wearing his brace, but that could change soon. “He’s taking fly balls,” Girardi said. “He’s running. He can do some lifting with his legs. He’s still basically in the brace until probably next week.”

• Former Yankees pitching prospect Dan McCutchen has been suspended 50 games [5] for performance enhancing drugs. He was part of the Pirates trade for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady. Never got to the big leagues with the Yankees, but pitched for a while in Pittsburgh. Really popular clubhouse guy. Very easy to like.

• Planning to have Hughes start tonight, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will instead call up and start Graham Stoneburner. [6]

Associated Press photos