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Don't make fast conclusions about Hughes

Yankees starter Phil Hughes. (Apr. 3, 2011)

Yankees starter Phil Hughes. (Apr. 3, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Yankees manager Joe Girardi doesn't think it's fair to compare Phil Hughes' decrease in velocity to his radar gun readings from early last year.

At least not until Hughes makes his third start of the season. That's because Hughes didn't make his first start of 2010 until April 15, following two weeks of additional seasoning in Tampa, Fla.

When the Yankees broke camp last season, they left Hughes behind as part of their plan to limit his innings. Girardi wondered Monday if the additional work in Tampa might have helped Hughes' fastball, which he said topped out in the high 80s during spring training last year, too. Yet by the time he made his 2010 debut for the Yankees, he was throwing in the low 90s as usual.

"Sometimes it just takes guys a little longer to get going certain years," Girardi said. "There's no perfect explanation to this. He didn't really make his first start until April 15 last year, so he had eight starts in spring training, so if you're comparing this year to last year, he still has another start."

In his first start of the season Sunday, Hughes averaged 89 mph with his fastball. Last year, his fastball averaged 92.6, according to fangraphs.com.

Joba owns the seventh

Girardi said after Monday night's game that the seventh inning officially is Joba Chamberlain's, and the reliever said he's happy to know exactly what his role is after several years of bouncing back and forth between the starting rotation and various bullpen assignments.

"It never affected me, I just never really got in a routine," Chamberlain said after pitching a perfect seventh in the Yankees' 4-3 victory over the Twins. "This was the first time in 41/2 years that I had the opportunity in spring training to do exactly what I was going to do in the season. It's nice to be able to have that routine and that understanding of what I'm going to do throughout the whole year."

Chamberlain has appeared in three of the Yankees' four games and has pitched a perfect inning in two of them.

Andruw gets a start

With lefthander Brian Duensing pitching for the Twins Tuesday night, Girardi will start Andruw Jones in leftfield. He was not sure whether Brett Gardner or Curtis Granderson will be the outfielder who sits.

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