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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Hughes: “It’s all fastball command, really”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on May 21, 2013 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Phil HughesA short night at the stadium can lead to some long nights at home, and Phil Hughes knew he wasn’t heading for sweet dreams on Wednesday night. Not after a nightmare of a start.

“You lay in bed and you think about things,” he said. “What could have gone differently for you, and what you could have done better. It’s tough. It’s tough any way you slice it.”

Doubt anyone needs to be reminded of the details, so here are the basics: Hughes got two outs, allowed seven runs and saw his season ERA jump by nearly a run and a half on Wednesday. Tonight will be his first start since the debacle, an opportunity for — as he put it — “officially putting that one out of my memory bank.” Of course, forgetting about that one will require a significant step forward, which will require some sort of correction.

“I felt like I was maybe on the side of the ball a little bit, which tends (to cause) my fastball to come back over the middle of the plate,” Hughes said. “My bullpen, I tried to focus on staying behind the baseball and continue to stay aggressive. It wasn’t any drastic changes or anything.”

Fact is, Wednesday was an extreme example of what’s made Hughes such an up-and-down pitcher, especially this season. He’s made eight starts this year. In his first two and his last two — the four starts when he struggled — he’s had a combined ERA of 14.17 with seven strikeouts. In his middle four starts, he’s had a combined ERA of 1.93 with 30 strikeouts. He’s been terrific for half the season (punctuated by eight scoreless innings on May 4), and he’s been awful for half of the season (punctuated by Wednesday’s embarrassment).

“It’s all fastball command, really,” Hughes said. “The days that I’ve had good command of my fastball, I’ve been able to work everything off that. Those have been the good ones. The bad ones, I’m falling behind and trying to figure something out. When the fastball is there and I’m locating it, I have a good chance to be good that day. If not, I think I need to do a better job of recognizing that earlier and throwing more off-speed pitches to try to counter-balance that.”

Locating the fastball requires control, beginning with Hughes’ emotions. He said he has a tendency to get on the side of the ball when he overthrows. Larry Rothschild told Hughes that overthrowing was the problem on Wednesday.

“Larry said it reminded him of last year when I threw in Anaheim (5.1 innings, 7 earned),” Hughes said. “Sometimes you just get too much adrenaline going and tend to overthrow the baseball. For me, when I do that, I get on the side and rush out a little bit. It’s something I need to recognize when I’m doing that and try to do a better job of handling my emotions, especially in the first inning, which is tough sometimes. I think that’s when you’re amped up the most. Once I get rolling a little bit, it becomes easier.”

Associated Press photo

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58 Responses to “Hughes: “It’s all fastball command, really””

  1. comnsnse May 21st, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Really Phil? But the question is after many years of hopefully refining your craft, you are still the same inconsistent pitcher with the same problems.

    So defining a problem is simple, while executing seems to have escaped a solution in your career.

    What to do, what to do, perhaps an imminent change of scenery where you may continue to ponder your issues?

  2. tomingeorgia May 21st, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    luis,
    Why not just stop the clock for those things? At least, everybody would know the time remaining that way.

  3. Warning Track Power May 21st, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    comnsnse May 21st, 2013 at 1:47 pm
    Bottom line to date on CC’s pitching.

    When you have an average fastball you obviously must locate which he has not done consistently.

    More importantly when you do have two strikes on a hitter you do not float a breaking ball “cookie” in the zone which he did and got hammered.

    Hopefully the warmer weather will help the velocity because if not this may become another albatross contract.

    And btw those are the same comments that should be directed at tonight’s starter who has far fewer credentials than CC.
    ————————————————————————————————————
    Right now it’s very difficult to admit C.C. has an average fastball. Last night appeared to be a warm night at the park, so I assumed C.C. would be touching 94 with his heater-WRONG!
    C.C. may need to pick Mussina’s brain at this point. Without that velocity, hitters are not going to swing and miss much unless they are fooled or off-balance.

    In the AB with Markakis, who hit a single up the middle on a slider away, I felt like that was a perfect time to throw another heater inside. Get the fastball on the inside corner and Markakis probably takes a called 3rd strike.
    I think the hitter knew the slider was coming because he took a good hack at the pitch.

  4. luis May 21st, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Tom,

    Because the games would become eternal… The extra time never amounts to the real time lost by those things I mentioned… A 45 min period would become an hour or so periods… That would not work for the networks broadcasting the games

  5. bruceb May 21st, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Hopefully the warmer weather will help the velocity because if not this may become another albatross contract.

    No way can you describe it as an “albatross contract.” CC has carried this pitching staff for four years. He’s been one of the top five pitchers in baseball during that period of time. He even wants to pitch when he’s injured. Whatever we get out of him in the last couple of seasons is a bonus.

  6. mick May 21st, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    What am I missing in this Arias trial?
    Is she sorry or not?
    Luckily I am not in that courtroom to hear her crap…

  7. mick May 21st, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Back to baseball: I got the sads when Nuno lost this start.
    ==========================
    I forget who wrote this but are you a Yankee fan?
    Nuno is starting in the next series or against the Mets, so evidently he’s up here.
    He was warming up to come in the other day but when Wells untied it he sat for Mo.

  8. comnsnse May 21st, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Luis, return to the previous thread for my “in depth” thesis on soccer! ;)

  9. Shame Spencer May 21st, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Gonna be an interesting evening… hopefully Phil will bounce back from two not-so-awesome starts.

  10. comnsnse May 21st, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Yes Bruce except it appears only in pro sports does the recipient of these too lengthy contracts enjoy the millions even when the performance decreases.

    The only other place this seems to occur is in our Congress!

  11. Warning Track Power May 21st, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Shame
    What I want to see is a lot and I mean a lot of 1st strike breaking balls. I want Phil to use
    the breaking ball to get ahead in the count and early in the count. Then maybe he can throw the fastball and get a swing and miss.
    He can not enter the game today with only 1 good pitch-the fastball. He must have
    a breaking ball that is being thrown for strikes. If not, then the O’s hitters are going to be running up to the plate with bat in hand.

  12. tucker May 21st, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    If the Yanks are serious about 189 and Phil demands $13 to $15 million per year, I’d let him walk (after a qualifying offer). With a healthy Pineda, Phelps, Nuno and others like Warren in the pipeline, that is just too much to spend on a No. 4 starter who shows flashes of being a very good starter but who lacks the pitchability to adjust when he doesn’t have his best stuff or location.

  13. blake May 21st, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    @MadDogUnleashed: Have to give Yankees credit, its kind of a rag-a-muffin team. Type of team Girardi likes to manage, mix and match, unlike usual NYY roster.

  14. bruceb May 21st, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Comnsnse

    You’re right, sports do not mirror real life. Athletes get paid big bucks past their prime because organizations are so desperate to sign them in the first place. But I would argue that the Yanks have got far better value out of CC’s contract than ARod’s.

  15. luis May 21st, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    comnsnse May 21st, 2013 at 2:18 pm
    Luis, return to the previous thread for my “in depth” thesis on soccer!

    =============================

    Actually very good thesis!! It makes sense…Here in Venezuela believe it or not, Baseball is king.. Just very recently Soccer has taken a good foot hold on the fan base… I would disagree only in that Soccer is a dull sport, quite the contrary… I played both on my younger years… They are both very fun to watch and play.

    About the e-mail… already send the request to Chad…You should have it by now…I’ll e-mail Chad again

  16. CountryClub May 21st, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Ken Rosenthal ?@Ken_Rosenthal 2h #Yankees 14th in AL in runs per game at home, fourth on road. So much for the idea that it’s Yankee Stadium reviving their newcomers

  17. pat May 21st, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    All MLB teams to wear camo uniforms for Memorial Day. Here’s the Yankee version.

    http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/.....escamo.jpg

  18. Shame Spencer May 21st, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    pat May 21st, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    All MLB teams to wear camo uniforms for Memorial Day. Here’s the Yankee version.

    http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/…..escamo.jpg

    ———————-

    I prefer these over the 4th of July unis lol.

  19. luis May 21st, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Oh! And I think is more physically demanding than baseball.

    Bruce,

    We got great value from Arod’s contract up intil he got that crazy extension… Not his fault though… In the case of C, I think he is still an awesome pitcher…We are going to get fair value from his, including his decline… He has learned to pitch very well to compensate his diminished velocity.

  20. blake May 21st, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Yanks are showing yet again that money doesn’t buy baseball happiness…..yes they have a 230 million dollar payroll this year but despite half their roster on the DL they are still in first place while other big spenders like the Angels and Jays and Dodgers wallow in the cellar or close to it.

  21. Shame Spencer May 21st, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I haven’t seen CC let the game get out of hand very often. That’s one big contract I don’t worry about.

  22. Warning Track Power May 21st, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    pat May 21st, 2013 at 2:51 pm
    All MLB teams to wear camo uniforms for Memorial Day. Here’s the Yankee version.

    http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/…..escamo.jpg
    ————————————————————————————————
    Interesting how MLB can find more than enough workers to produce alternate uniforms for the fans to purchase at high prices, but MLB has been unable to staff enough workers to
    be responsible for “replay” in the game.

  23. Bo knows May 21st, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Gee Phil – the truism is that to be successful in pitching, you have to change speeds. When you’re throwing the FB at the same speed 70% of the time and the latest breaking ball 25% then there’s not a lot of speed changing.

    Your approach five years later; STILL S&^$/CKS

    Go talk to Warren, he throws three different FBs, at least they break differently.

  24. luis May 21st, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    blake May 21st, 2013 at 2:55 pm
    Yanks are showing yet again that money doesn’t buy baseball happiness…..yes they have a 230 million dollar payroll this year but despite half their roster on the DL they are still in first place while other big spenders like the Angels and Jays and Dodgers wallow in the cellar or close to it.

    ==============================

    Ergo… They should be concentrating on developing a homegrown core and then complementing it with shrewd trades and FA signings… Not the other way around

  25. blake May 21st, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    “Ergo… They should be concentrating on developing a homegrown core and then complementing it with shrewd trades and FA signings… Not the other way around”

    Ideally yea….but that ain’t easy and also isn’t wheret they are right now so they are rolling with what they have and making it work. I think they are trying to head in that direction….. But they aren’t there yet and in the meantime they don’t want to become the Royals

  26. Shame Spencer May 21st, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Interesting how MLB can find more than enough workers to produce alternate uniforms for the fans to purchase at high prices, but MLB has been unable to staff enough workers to
    be responsible for “replay” in the game.

    ———————

    Lol, probably because they can’t outsource that type of service to underage workers in abroad..

  27. Warning Track Power May 21st, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I watched the game last night courtesy of ESPN. Aaron Boone was talking about Cano and then his partner went on and on about how there was a time when experts predicted Cano would win multiple batting titles, etc….
    Then Boone added that today, Cano can probably win a HR title with that swing of his.

    Later in the broadcast Boone was comparing Bryce Harper, Trout and Machado. Out of nowhere Boone said that Harper will soon be a 30, 40 or 50 HR per year hitter.
    WTF!!

  28. luis May 21st, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Ideally yea….but that ain’t easy and also isn’t wheret they are right now so they are rolling with what they have and making it work. I think they are trying to head in that direction….. But they aren’t there yet and in the meantime they don’t want to become the Royals

    ===========================

    I hope you are right… But after depleting the farm in the past few years, I find it almost impossible to do it without some sucking in our near future… We have a gap of about two or three years…. That’s a long time for “in the meantime” ;) … Not that I have anything against taking a step back to retool though

  29. blake May 21st, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    “Later in the broadcast Boone was comparing Bryce Harper, Trout and Machado. Out of nowhere Boone said that Harper will soon be a 30, 40 or 50 HR per year hitter.
    WTF!!”

    He probably will be yea ….he’s on pace for 30+ this year and he’s 20 years old

  30. Jerkface May 21st, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    WTF!!

    Do you think Harper won’t be? He is 20 and on pace for a 40 HR year.

  31. charlestonchew May 21st, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    We’re gonna get the good Phil tonight. I can feel it.

  32. Bo knows May 21st, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Ergo… They should be concentrating on developing a homegrown core and then complementing it with shrewd trades and FA signings… Not the other way around
    ————
    Great Posit, except that playing the best, most exciting baseball in years they’re down something like 6,000 per game in attendance.

    The people that come for the glitz and the Yankee experience care very little about what’s happening on the field. They’re wandering around soaking in the YS experience. It’s the Yankees in Disneyland.

    For God’s sake they’re doing YMCA, Cotton Eyed Joe and the Wave. Talk about schlock.

    The product is secondary to the presentation.

  33. Nick in SF May 21st, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    It’s pretty common for teams to step back from being average or mediocre in order to attempt to get better. How common is it for teams to step back from competing for the playoffs and a World Series title while they’re still doing so?

  34. Warning Track Power May 21st, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Blake and Jerk-
    What irritates me is the nature of the prediction. Saying he can hit 30, 40 or 50 hr’s
    Why not go even further and say he can hit 60 or 20 or 10, WTF!!!
    Lazy journalism and I like Boone for the most part. He’s a better announcer than his
    brother was.

    I also get irritated when “experts” on T.V. go on and on how about Mo was so successful with the Yankees with just ‘ONE’ pitch. Really???
    Mo started to throw the 2 seamer about 10 years ago. Is that the same pitch as the cutter?
    NO! How to the producers or staff allow the broadcasters to get away with not telling the facts.
    Bugs me to no end

  35. Hassey May 21st, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Lit up like a roman candle tonight

  36. Jerkface May 21st, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Well I don’t really agree with you on the former, since projection is a thing and you’re pretty much going to have to project if you want to fill time on young players. Harper is off to an amazing start, showing insane power for someone who is not even in their prime. It is not unreasonable to suggest he can have some monster HR seasons.

    The latter I agree, but its become part of Mo’s myth. He essentially does throw 1 pitch, ‘a fastball’. Even though we know he throws 3 and once in a blue moon a change. Announcing sucks in general.

  37. 86w183 May 21st, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    WTP — great point on Mariano. He started throwing the two-steamer shortly after the 2001 World Series if I remember correctly. Yet many cling to the “one pitch” story line.

    Hughes has become a very tough call for the Yanks going forward. He is basically AJ Burnett without the tattoos. You love the good AJ/Phil, hate the bad one.

  38. charlestonchew May 21st, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Just voted 35 times to get Vernon Wells on the All-Star team. Wouldn’t that be a ridiculous sight?

  39. luis May 21st, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Hi

  40. 86w183 May 21st, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Hi Luis…como estas ?

  41. charlestonchew May 21st, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    “Well I don’t really agree with you on the former, since projection is a thing and you’re pretty much going to have to project if you want to fill time on young players. Harper is off to an amazing start, showing insane power for someone who is not even in their prime. It is not unreasonable to suggest he can have some monster HR seasons.”

    To jump in on the Harper discussion: the kid has immense talent. It is quite rare that an OF this young arrives in the majors with this kind of hitting prowess, his complementary speed, and generally good defense. He is SO young and his talent stands out in a big way. Mike Trout plays the game very well, but I think when we look at Harper we see an unbelievably high ceiling. I mean, the kid could have a Willie Mays-like career. He is bigger this season and has filled out a bit, but what makes me the most excited to see with Harper is how his body fills out in the future. There is a definite potential to fill out his frame even more and bulk up, but I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. Trout has ballooned up a bit and he’s always been a thicker guy. It’s unlike he’ll carry his speed and defense (and perhaps even bat speed) into his later 30s like Haper potentially can.

    But with Harper it all comes down to one thing: his health. How willing is he to be reckless with his body? Will he let his competitive, win-at-all-costs attitude derail his career and cause some serious injuries that either shorten it or rob him from his prime years? (Slade Heathcott has a similar problem with his style of play, though he isn’t harper-like in his abilities).

    If Harper can take care of his body and continue to mature at the plate and fill out just the right amount (no need to bulk up too much, right Jose Bautista?) , I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make a steroid, PED-free run at the 61 homerun record and perhaps later in his career at bigger milestones lime 500 or 600HR.

  42. Warning Track Power May 21st, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Jerk and 86
    Just nice to know I am not the only person that listens carefully to these announces
    and can point out occasions where they are terrible wrong.
    Misinformation appears to be their forte. Not all of them, but the majority.
    If one announcer says Mo throws just 1 pitch, then the rest just follow. Like sheep. It’s embarrassing.

  43. luis May 21st, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Nick,

    They can’t…Not this season… This has been a very enjoyable and most of all surprising team to watch in years… But my comment to Blake was in response to his comment about all those teams struggling after huge investments on free agents… They have basically copied the old Yankee way of doing things, which I think it doesn’t work… Hence my initial comment toward him… But to expect a team to keep competing with lots of LT contracts to aging players, a cap and the next wave of talent at least two years away is unrealistic… At some point, they will need to take a step back.. Which is fine by me

  44. Bo knows May 21st, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    It’s form over function.

    Take people that grew up on MacDonalds and Olive Gardens to a five star restaurant.

    Once I invited some new friends for a special treat. The strawberries were great that year. I drove sixty miles for fresh farmer’s cream. Fresh roasted, ground and brewed Blue Mountain coffee. This was going to be great. We would share this experience with out new friends. She asked for whitener for the coffee. Somehow I managed to politely apologize to her that we were fresh out. I’m told that the throbbing veins on the temples were a giveaway.

    I hear about it to this day.

    It’s Detroit in automobiles, it’s the reefers in refrigerated trucks, the refrigerators with compressors half the size of the ones before, all are designed and tested to break down two months after the warranty expires.

  45. Nick in SF May 21st, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Screw the cap, they can lower payroll by attrition anyway. Problem solved, keep going for the big prize, feed the beast.

  46. UpState May 21st, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Who did we really lose from our MiLB teams over the past 3-4 years ?

  47. luis May 21st, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    The product is secondary to the presentation.

    ===================

    Yup… Unfortunately this seems to be the case… this team is gritty and has an underdog ring to it, which makes it’s success even more appealing… Mind boggling

  48. Warning Track Power May 21st, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    charlestonchew May 21st, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    If Harper can take care of his body and continue to mature at the plate and fill out just the right amount (no need to bulk up too much, right Jose Bautista?) , I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make a steroid, PED-free run at the 61 homerun record and perhaps later in his career at bigger milestones lime 500 or 600HR.
    ——————————————————————————————————————-
    I would be shocked to see him challenge the 61 HR mark.
    I do agree, the kid has talent. He is only 20, blah blah blah

    My point is why do announcers throw out such outrageous margins when describing a player.
    Is it 30, 40 or 50 hr’s.
    Will the batter his 250, 300, or 350…
    Do you know what I mean?

  49. luis May 21st, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    86w183 May 21st, 2013 at 3:34 pm
    Hi Luis…como estas ?

    ===================

    Bien y tu? ;) It was a test because I wrote a couple of posts and didn’t appear on the thread… Just checking if something was wrong

  50. comnsnse May 21st, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Bo, attendance this year has been impacted by snow storms and generally inclement weather patterns.

    It has also and will continue to be impacted by our grossly underestimated unemployment, under employment and those no longer looking for a job.

    Then factor in that a large percentage of our citizens were already in the above fixes prior to our domestic decline.

    Lastly the real inflation not the pap that’s disseminated by government where the average pro sporting event require a serious disbursement fro your local ATM!

    Perhaps a better indicator would be has TV viewership dropped?

    Wait we pay for that too with a “suggested” increase every 6 months!

    We are in a pincer movement by the inexorable forces of the private sector…………..or to put it in the street vernacular…………..”we’re screwed six ways from Sunday”! ;)

  51. comnsnse May 21st, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Luis, I advised you to be careful in your own country.

    But what I forgot was that while we love to meddle in the affairs of others , we do not look kindly at “foreigners” attempting to recruit in ours.

    With those obvious language tactics to detect kindred spirits!!! ;)

  52. ron May 21st, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Hughes is throwing less,and less % of fb,but his other pitches are not effective enough,and he does not know how,and when to use them by changing eye levels,bat speed,etc…
    He is also too predictable.Starting off every hitter with fb,etc…
    Imo,he falls in love with his fb,and the better it is,the more he strays from his offspeed pitches.
    You have to be able to throw 3 pitches,in any count,for a strike,and when something is not working,you have to have another pitch.
    The same story with hughes.When he has no fb,he has nothing else,and when his best pitch is not working,his fb,he loses it.

  53. comnsnse May 21st, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Bo, are you speaking of Jamaican Blue Mountain reputed to be the world’s best ?

    I have been trying to locate a source so if you would send info post haste!

    Thank you

    However, “the product is secondary to the presentation”?

    Maybe with the infantile movie fare these days but puzzle me this.

    How many speed laws would you break to rush home to see Michael Kay interview someone if the team wallowed in the cellar for a few years.

    Which come to think of it is oxymoronic to your post about “strawberries and great coffee, no?

  54. 86w183 May 21st, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Luis — I’ve written some that didn’t appear… And a few that I wish handn’t !!

    Soy muy bien. I’m in NYC right now which always reminds me of my limited grasp of Espanol as does speaking with my younger daughter who is serving in the Peace Corps in La Republica Dominica.

    I find something to enjoy in each season whether it’s emerging young talent, stars having epic seasons or former all-stars recapturing their ability to perform. There is always something to embrace. This team is giving us a little of everything.

  55. vrsce May 21st, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    CC put on the lost weight, fastball will come back with it.

  56. Jerkface May 21st, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    My point is why do announcers throw out such outrageous margins when describing a player.
    Is it 30, 40 or 50 hr’s.
    Will the batter his 250, 300, or 350…
    Do you know what I mean?

    50 points of average is a lot different than 10 HRs. And in this case most players may top out at 30 HRs, and few hit them perpetually each season. I think it is designed to show that the expectation is that Harper is already one of the rare HR hitting talents and may even touch the elite HR level that guys like Ortiz/Andruw Jones/Pujols hit for some seasons. Don’t think there is anything wrong at all.

    Honestly when Harper is in his prime I could see him chase the single season mark.

  57. 86w183 May 21st, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Harper’s best shot at a 50+ HR season involves physical health, mental maturity and signing with the Yanks so he can take advantage of NYS.

    I have no problem with any announcer projecting greatness for a guy who is already having success at a high level.

    I have a BIG problem with people projecting MLB success for a child playing in the Little League World Series — such as Brent Musberger guaranteeing MLB success for Danny Almonte.

  58. blake May 21st, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Guys Harper is gonna be a monster if he stays healthy…..like a Griffey level player. He’s a once in a decade or so type talent

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