The pitcher, of course, was referring to his much-discussed fastball velocity, again missing in action Friday afternoon in a Fenway Park beating.
Afterward, Hughes stood at his locker and answered every question, politely as always, fired at him.
Toward the end, Hughes said simply: "If I had an answer, I’d share it.”
No one else has much in the way of answers about an issue everyone involved said isn't injury-related but is a problem of arm strength.
"Nothing physical, he's not locating and the ball's not coming out the way it did last year," Joe Girardi said. "If there was something physical, he'd have a hard time making his side work and he's not having any issues. It's just, he's not very sharp right now."
"He's just not sharp, he's not throwing the baseball very well like he's capable of doing," Girardi said. "And we have to get him right."
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said the problem can be fixed, though when and how is very much up in the air.
It’s fixable in a way where it’s going to be a natural occurrence that the arm strength comes back," Rothschild said. "I’ve seen guys go through this but it’s a tough road until he gets back to that point. I think it’s temporary. I don’t think this is something you’re going to see all year, at least I hope not. I don’t know if he’s lost or just hasn’t built up all the way yet. Some guys are slower like that. And he’s clearly right now one of them. I think if it were mechanical you would see some of the velocities, you’d just see them sporadically. I think that’s why you’ve seen him try other things and survive with it, which is tough to do, changing mid stream for a young pitcher is not an easy thing."
Catcher Russell Martin said he could tell Hughes was trying to “overcompensate” for the lack of velocity.
“Right now it looks like he’s searching for an extra couple miles per hour,” Martin said.
Hughes, meanwhile, twice used "lost" in terms of his feeling on the mound right now.
“Right now I’m kind of lost out there, not really knowing what I did differently than last year,” Hughes said. “Right now it’s just not there and I need to figure it out.”
*** Ivan Nova, who starts Saturday, pitched out of the bullpen last season against the Red Sox here, allowing a run in 2 1/3 innings and taking the loss in a 7-6 defeat. But he said that experience is the reason he's not nervous about pitching on national television against the Yankees' rival.
“I faced them last year, I don’t have this sudden emotion like, ‘Oh, I have to face the Red Sox,'" Nova said. "This year is totally different. I feel really good and I hope I can do a really good job against them tomorrow.”