Hughes: Ready for the rotation

Phil Hughes checked in with The Associated Press down in the shadows of George M. Steinbrenner Field today, saying that he’s ready to battle Joba Chamberlain and others to be the Yankees’ fifth starter come Opening Day.

“I know I’m coming into the spring fighting for a job,” Hughes told the AP after a pre-spring training workout on Thursday. “I’m out of the
reliever mindset for right now. Anytime nothing is going to be handed
to you, you strive to be a little bit better.”

Hughes started throwing in mid-December and has thrown fastballs off a mound a couple of times this month. He said that last year’s success in a bullpen assignment helped his confidence.

“I definitely feel at a point where I’ve never been, having the
experience of consistently getting big league guys out,” Hughes said.
“It helps, and obviously winning the World Series also helps.”

Hughes guesses that his innings count could be between 175 and 180 if he makes the rotation.

  • We launched a story on MLB.com looking ahead to the fifth starter battle today with a little more detail, and I jumped on with Noah Coslov and Pete McCarthy to talk about the negotiations – or lack thereof – with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera right now. 
  • The AP also notes that Jesus Montero is working out at first base. It seems like a good idea for him to get acclimated there if possible, but with Mark Teixeira and Nick Johnson there for 2010 (plus Nick Swisher in an emergency), don’t look for that to be his calling card to the Bronx. Either way, Montero’s big bat will be what punches his ticket to the big leagues, maybe as soon as this year. 
  • How many miles do you figure the World Series trophy has traveled this winter? Here’s a couple of more appearances on the agenda to pass on from the Yankees… the trophy will be on display at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, 2/12) at the Connecticut Sports Foundation Dinner at Mohegan Sun. 

    On Saturday (2/13), it will be on display and available for the public to take pictures with just outside of the Box Office in The Shops at Mohegan Sun from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. General public looking for additional information should call 1.888.226.7711.

1 Comment

They should give Montero some time in the OF, to see if he adapts. Yogi played OF, so did Ellie, and both in a bigger ballpark. Even Bench, at the beginning of his career, played some OF. If the scouts are right about Montero’s catching, that he would need to find another position, LF might be the ticket, because of having Teixeira at 1B. You don’t want to pigeon-hole a young Montero into the DH spot at such an early age, especially when that DH spot will be needed for Posada (39 in August), Jeter (36 this summer) and Alex (35 this summer).

Teams found ways for plodders like Kiner and Luzinski to play LF, even if not that well. NOW…in spring training and at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on the days he isn’t catching are the times to see if Montero can play LF.

It doesn’t make sense to me to see a youngster like Montero DH on his days off from catching. On those days, try him at another position. Increase his value by seeing if he is more versatile. If Montero can catch, DH, play 1b and a corner OF position, he becomes more versatile. One of the great things about the Stengel Yankees was their versatility—the fact that Kubek played OF and infield, McDougald was an All-Star at three positions, and that because both could play LF, you could have both Ellie and Yogi in the lineup at the same time. Learn from the past.

For those worried about the LF situation (I am not as of now) between Gardner, Winn and Thames, just imagine if Montero proves he CAN handle it and that his bat IS MLB ready. You can always put Gardner or Winn in for defense in the late innings. But besides having Montero catch, why not, on his off days and during spring training, experiment with him in LF?

Isn’t that what Spring Training should be for, to try out some ideas?

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