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Hughes continues to strengthen his arm

New York Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes (65)

New York Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes (65) reacts to the game action in the top of the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. (April 14, 2011) Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

TORONTO -- Phil Hughes' search for his missing velocity continued in the bullpen Wednesday afternoon and it will continue Friday with another long toss session.

Joe Girardi, who watched Hughes' bullpen, said the righthander's arm looked "quicker," and the pitcher said his arm feels good.

But Hughes and Girardi know the true results of his current arm-strengthening program, being overseen by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, won't be known until he appears in a game. "I felt good today but when the roof is closed here, everything is popping and it feels great and sounds great," he said. "It's really hard to tell."

Hughes will take Thursday off and long toss again Friday, his fifth such session since being put on the DL April 15, with a second bullpen to possibly follow this weekend in Baltimore. He could make a rehab start, likely to be at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, sometime next week, though no firm timetable has been set.

"It's frustrating right now but I'm doing everything I can do," Hughes said. "It's really just one of those things I have to do everything I can to get my arm strong where it needs to be. Hopefully when I do go on that assignment I can get out there and show some improvement and be back and ready to go."

Girardi raised some eyebrows late last week when he said Hughes was taking anti-inflammatories for his shoulder, but Hughes said that was because of the arm-strengthening work, not because of an injury.

"They wanted to make sure I didn't hit a peak, then feel a drop-off from the intensity that I was putting my shoulder through," he said. "Just something precautionary to make sure nothing gets inflamed."

Gardner sits

Brett Gardner came in with good career numbers against lefty Brett Cecil -- though in a small sample size (3-for-8) -- but he understood Girardi going with Andruw Jones (0-for-3 in his career against Cecil) in leftfield and Curtis Granderson (1-for-12) in centerfield Wednesday.

"I don't have a problem with that," Gardner said, mentioning "the way things have been going."

Girardi said his plan was for Gardner, hitting .128 with a .196 OBP, to be back in the lineup Friday night.

"Today I'm not playing and tomorrow we have an off day," Gardner said. "Sometimes it's best just to take a step back and look at things and work on my approach and continue to work on my swing and be ready to go in Baltimore."

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