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Ailing Phil Hughes expects to start Thursday

Phil Hughes pitching in the first inning of

Phil Hughes pitching in the first inning of a 2011 game. (July 22, 2011) Credit: David Pokress

CLEVELAND -- After a bout with what Phil Hughes suspected was food poisoning, he still expects to make his scheduled start Thursday night.

"As long as it doesn't get any worse,'' said Hughes, sitting on a couch in the visitors' clubhouse, the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head.

After Wednesday night's's game was rained out, Joe Girardi said Hughes would stay in turn. Ivan Nova, Wednesday night's's scheduled starter, will pitch out of the bullpen until his next turn in the rotation.

"All I want to do is go out and pitch and now I have to wait like five more days, and that for me will feel like a month,'' said Nova, anxious to put his last start, when he allowed four runs in 42/3 innings Friday in Detroit, behind him. "If he needs me in the bullpen, I'll go to the bullpen. I just want to pitch.''

Rivera says thanks

As part of his final season, Mariano Rivera plans to meet behind-the-scenes people at every road stop who contribute to the sport but generally aren't acknowledged for it.

For 30 minutes Wednesday, Rivera talked with about 50 Indians employees, answering questions, signing autographs and posing for pictures.

He even had a request before the Q & A, and not of an employee.

"Where's the drummer?'' he said, referencing Indians fan John Adams, who is celebrating his 41st season banging a large drum in the bleachers at Municipal Stadium from 1973-1993 and at Progressive Field from 1994 until the present. "Hey, you're the man. Being loyal, being there day in and day out, I really respect that.''

Adams, standing in the back, said, "This is a stress relief for me. And you've given me a lot of stress,'' which drew laughter.

Extra bases

Girardi said Tuesday that Curtis Granderson, recovering from a broken right forearm, would swing under water Wednesday, but he didn't. Granderson told The Associated Press he was fine and hoped to receive clearance to swing a fungo bat later this week . . . RHP Michael Pineda (right shoulder surgery) threw batting practice.

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