Phil Hughes had a rough time in short stints as a starter for
the New York Yankees the last two years. He’s counting on an
improved repertoire to help him fare better this time.
Hughes makes his season debut Thursday night when the Yankees
finish a three-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels.
After replacing Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation for New York
last April 28, Hughes (8-3, 3.03 ERA) went 3-2 with a 5.45 ERA in
seven starts before being shifted to the bullpen. He shined in
relief, going 5-1 with a 1.40 ERA.
Hughes began the 2008 season in the rotation, going 0-4 with a
9.00 ERA in six outings in April before being placed on the
disabled list with a stress fracture in his right rib cage.
The 23-year-old right-hander has added a changeup he has used in
two simulated games that he believes will help him stay in the
rotation this year.
“From the last time I started to now, the changeup has made all
the difference,” Hughes told the Yankees’ official Web site. “I
don’t have a regular-season game to judge that off.”
The Yankees kept Hughes in Tampa for the extra work since they
didn’t need a fifth starter until now. He’s 2-0 with a 5.23 ERA
against the Angels in four regular-season appearances, making one
“It’s early enough, so I don’t feel like I’m too out of the
loop,” Hughes said.
New York (5-3) will give the ball to Hughes after No. 4 starter
Javier Vazquez turned in a second straight poor outing Wednesday.
Vazquez gave up four runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-3 loss.
Los Angeles (3-6) dropped six of its first eight for the first
time since 1972 before Joel Pineiro struck out seven in seven sharp
innings for his first win. The top third of the Angels’ batting
order produced six hits and three RBIs.
“We need more games like this,” said manager Mike Scioscia, who
held a closed-door meeting after a 7-5 loss Tuesday. “If we had
been playing like this for the first week there’s no way we’re
sitting with a 3-6 record.”
Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth for his first save after
the Angels placed closer Brian Fuentes on the 15-day disabled list
earlier in the day due to a strained back.
Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano each had two hits for New York,
which could find it tougher at the plate Thursday against Scott
Kazmir, making his season debut after opening on the disabled list
with a strained hamstring.
Jeter is 4 for 36 (.111) with 11 strikeouts against Kazmir
(10-9, 4.89) for his lowest average against any pitcher he has
faced at least 20 times. Cano is 4 for 26 (.154) and Alex Rodriguez
3 for 24 (.125).
The left-hander is 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA against New York in 15
appearances – 14 starts.
One Yankee who may be happy to see Kazmir is Mark Teixeira, who
is 7 for 11 against him. Teixeira has gone hitless in seven of
eight games and is batting .097.