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Hughes The Man
2008-03-09 17:25
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

I'm hoping to wear that headline out this year. There have been a lot of pleasant surprises thus far this spring, including the number of players who showed up in legitimately fantastic shape, but the best news of all has been the performance of Phil Hughes, who has restored confidence in his legs following last year's hamstring and ankle injuries, and has thus recovered the snap on his curve, the hop on his heater, and is back to inducing groundballs. This afternoon he took on the Minnesota Twins, who didn't know how good they had it when the Yankees offered Hughes in package for Johan Santana, and kept his spring record hitless over four innings as the Yanks went on to win 6-4.

Lineup:

S - Melky Cabrera (CF)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
L - Hideki Matsui (DH)
R - Shelley Duncan (1B)
R - Morgan Ensberg (3B)
R - Jason Lane (LF)
R - Jose Molina (C)
R - Chris Woodward (SS)
R - Jose Tabata (RF)

Pitchers: Phil Hughes, Kei Igawa, Alan Horne, Jeff Marquez, Chase Wright, Scott Patterson

Subs: Juan Miranda (1B), Bernie Castro (2B), Alberto Gonzalez (SS), Nick Green (PR/3B), Kyle Anson (C), Colin Curtis (RF), Austin Jackson (CF), Brett Gardner (PR/LF), Greg Porter (DH)

Opposition: The Twins' B-squad with Delmon Young and Justin Morneau.

Bit Hits: Doubles by Jose Molina (1 for 3), Morgan Ensberg (1 for 2, BB), and Greg Porter (1 for 1, BB). Chris Woodward was 2 for 3.

Who Pitched Well: Phil Hughes sailed through four hitless innings only allowing a pair of walks as he tired in the fourth. He struck out just one man, but got seven others out on the ground. Kei Igawa walked the bases loaded in the fifth, but stranded all three runners and allowed no hits over two scoreless innings. Scott Patterson retired the only man he faced. Though Igawa allowed that grand slam against SFU, during regular exhibition action those three pitchers have combined for 12 scoreless, hitless innings.

Who Didn't: Chase Wright allowed two runs, one earned, on two walks and a single while getting just two outs in the ninth. Jeff Marquez allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits (one a double by minor league catcher Eli Whiteside) and a walk in one inning of work. Alan Horne pitched a scoreless seventh, but allowed a single, uncorked a wild pitch, and walked two.

More Cuts: Wright, Marquez, and Horne were all reassigned to minor league camp after the game, which was likely to happen even if they had pitched well. Like McCutchen and Melancon from yesterday's cuts, all three are worth tracking this season. Horne and Marquez should be the top two starters in the Scranton rotation and could return as spot starters or long-relief help during the year. If all goes according to plan, both will be in the running to replace Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte next spring. Wright is less exciting, but as a lefty who has his first major league win under his belt, he could pop back up if he is able to right his course in the minors. I'd expect him to start the season in the Trenton rotation with McCutchen, but he could sneak into the Scranton quintet depending on how the chips fall at the end of camp. Chad Jennings of the SWB Yankees blog has been doing some good work on the bullpen battles and believes that with these cuts every remaining pitcher in camp is legitimately fighting for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Oopsies: A throwing error by Colin Curtis and a boot by Alberto Gonzalez, the latter Gonzalez's second error of the spring.

Ouchies: Per Pete Abe, Francisco Cervelli is expected to miss eight to ten weeks and could have a pin inserted in his arm to aid his healing. In his first game action of the spring, Hideki Matsui (knee/neck) went 0 for 3 and grounded into a double play, though supposedly the double play ball was smoked to Justin Morneau, who turned the 3-6-3. Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada (right lats) are expected to play the field in tomorrow's game against the Reds.

Comments
2008-03-09 21:03:50
1.   markp
Gonzalez seems to make a lot of errors for a guy who makes his living with his glove.

Igawa could help a lot if he can be near MLB average. He could soak up some innings as a long man and spot starter.

2008-03-09 21:20:51
2.   tommyl
Can anyone who saw the game report on how Hughes looked? Stupid non-YES televised games.
2008-03-09 21:59:22
3.   Yu-Hsing Chen
2 he looked sharp. curve and FB were exllent and he probalby should have gotten more Ks but the ump's zone was a bit tight today. he gave up both walk in the 4th when he seem a little gased and the mechanics fell off a bit.

Igawa looked terrible. FB was all over the place and he didn't show much of a break today either. he seem to be moving his release point to overhead instead of the ole 3/4 but it's not helping his command much. the ball still seem to be slipping out of his hand quiet often.

Scott Patterson seem to be really gaining the good will of Joe Giradi. would be something if he and Edwar does well this year.

2008-03-09 22:35:55
4.   markp
Igawa has changed his delivery. I imagine it's going to take him a while to get it completely (and consistently) under control.
2008-03-09 22:47:29
5.   Zack
2 3 And to add to that, Hughes's control was pinpoint, which for him is essential. He was throwing it exactly to the catcher's mitt for the first three innings, both sides of the plate on different levels. He mixed in a few changeups, so batters were going from being very early to very late in the same at bat. The curve was breaking sharply for strikes. All in all, in the first three innings, there wasn't a hard hit ball or anything even close to one.
2008-03-09 23:17:47
6.   Mattpat11
Please don't talk up Igawa.

I have horrible, unrealistic nightmares where Brian Cashman is finally sees the light and is ready to get rid of dead weight on the team. Then he comes here and sees people who think there's hope so he continues to hold on to said dead weight until the end of time.

2008-03-10 00:10:34
7.   weeping for brunnhilde
4 That's very optimistic of you, mark.

You're a generous soul.

2008-03-10 05:13:59
8.   tommyl
How was the velocity? Low 90s, mid 90s?
2008-03-10 06:35:59
9.   williamnyy23
I listened to the game on the Twins radio network, and for it's worth, the guys in the booth were lamenting that they didn't get Hughes in the deal. They kept gushing about how smooth his delivery looked and repeating that he will be only be 22 in June. When Gomez stepped into face Hughes with Melky behind him in CF, I couldn't help but wonder if Bill Smith felt a little queezy.

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