TAMPA, Fla. -- Yes, first-base umpire Marty Foster, known within the sport as having a short fuse, could have turned the other way.
But Yankees catcher Chris Stewart should not have put himself in position to get thrown out of a spring training game Thursday, though replays clearly showed his argument had merit.
"I didn't feel like I did anything to deserve to be thrown out of the game," said Stewart, ejected after arguing an out call on a grounder to short in the second inning. "I didn't get in his face."
But Stewart did make several gestures, something that most umpires, even the most patient ones, typically don't tolerate. Though Stewart contended he pointed only once at Foster, replays showed he pointed twice, something he later admitted to reporters.
For his part, Joe Girardi didn't throw Stewart under the bus but didn't effusively back him either.
"You can't have that happen in a regular-season game," Girardi said. "You're down to one catcher, and that's an issue."
Hughes not out of woods
On Wednesday, Girardi said it was "possible" that Phil Hughes, out with two bulging discs in his back, might not be ready for the start of the regular season. GM Brian Cashman didn't defuse the issue Thursday.
"Until he declares himself as healthy, it's just too early to make the call on it," Cashman said. "If asked, is Opening Day in jeopardy for him? Yeah, until we know [he's healthy]. He's got some more things to do just to be in position to get off the mound again. He could be healthy by Opening Day, he also might not be. We don't know yet."
Cashman said the hope is that Hughes will start a throwing program on flat ground by Tuesday. "Just one step at a time," Cashman said. "But he feels good."
In the seventh inning of Thursday's game, Edwin Encarnacion lifted a ball to the gap in right-center. Rightfielder Ronnier Mustelier drifted to his right to make the catch, and as he did, centerfield prospect Slade Heathcott, charging at a dead sprint, collided with him, shoulder-tackling the stunned Mustelier to the ground.
Mustelier was slow to get up but held on to the ball.
"It's OK, no problems," said Mustelier, who received the worst of the blow.
David Phelps turned in a second straight good start, pitching three scoreless innings . . . Kevin Youkilis, out the last three days with a sore left oblique, took batting practice and is expected to play tomorrow, Girardi said . . . Andy Pettitte said his bullpen session went "real well" and expects to pitch in a simulated game Sunday.