Quick hits: Hughes disappointed but not surprised
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (74-64) and White Sox (56-81) prepare to meet here at Yankee Stadium. Left-hander CC Sabathia (12-11, 4.91) has the ball for the Bombers, and right-hander Erik Johnson — Chicago’s No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com — is making his Major League debut for the Pale Hose.
There was a large group around Phil Hughes‘ locker this afternoon seeking reaction after Joe Girardi’s announcement that David Huff will start on Saturday against the Red Sox, bumping Hughes to the bullpen. Girardi wasn’t exactly clear about how he plans to use Hughes, saying that it could come in a long relief or short relief role, and Hughes said that he couldn’t be blindsided by the demotion considering how his season has gone.
“It’s always disappointing,” Hughes said. “I was looking forward to having a good September in the rotation, but obviously that’s not in the plans, so I’ll turn my attention to doing the best job out of the bullpen that I possibly can in whatever role that is. That’s it. That’s all I can do.”
Asked if he had given any thought to that – with free agency approaching – this may be his last month as a Yankee, Hughes replied, “I don’t really think about that. I’m just kind of more worried about the day to day and doing whatever I can to help this team. Hopefully, it’s a good September we have and we have some more baseball after that.”
The Yankees are going for the sweep of the White Sox tonight, and as Girardi said the last time they had a chance for a sweep, this is when you get greedy. They’re 16-7 in their last 23 games since Aug. 11, and enter tonight 10 games over .500 for the first time since June 11, when they were 37-27.
What gives Girardi confidence that Sabathia can turn around his slide?
“I’ve seen a lot of good innings,” he said. “It seems that at times it’s one inning that gets away from him a little bit, but I think his sinker has been better, his changeup has been better, his velocity has actually increased a little bit, and I’ve seen some really good innings out of him. We need to see that.”
This is a good note from the Elias Sports Bureau: with his game-winning, two-run, eighth-inning in double in Tuesday’s win, Eduardo Nunez became the first Yankees shortstop other than Derek Jeter to record a game-winning RBI in the eighth inning or later since Randy Velarde on 9/21/95 vs. Toronto (RBI-single).
My Beat The Streak pick tonight: Robinson Cano, though of course none of the Yankees have seen Johnson before. The streak is currently at four games after Jeter went 2-for-3 yesterday. (Yes, I made my picks even though there were no blog posts while I was off this weekend).