BRADENTON, Fla. - Phil Hughes is setting the bar intentionally low for the pitch he's been trying to add to his arsenal since he was a teenager.

"I'm not looking for it to be anything outstanding," Hughes said Tuesday of his changeup. "Just usable."

The calendar has turned to March, meaning there's talk of NCAA Tournament seedings, Ides, St. Patrick's Day, the approach of spring and, of course, Hughes developing a changeup.

Hughes is so used to discussing the topic at this time of year that at the end of a nearly 10-minute session with reporters, the good-natured 24-year-old joked about the line of questioning.

"World record if there's one more question about a changeup," he said.

In the Yankees' 2-0 loss to the Pirates Tuesday at McKechnie Field, Hughes pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a leadoff walk and nothing else.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Manager Joe Girardi said for Hughes' first time out, he was "happy," although he thought the righthander was "up a little bit" with his fastball.

"I thought he threw some pretty decent changeups," Girardi said.

Hughes said he threw three and will throw more as his innings increase. And if they stay at decent to good quality, he'll be fine with that.

"I don't feel like it's going to be a big strikeout pitch, or a James Shields-like changeup," Hughes said of the Rays' righthander. "I don't have the ability to take the speed off the ball like he does. But I think it can be usable."