It's spring meaning, among the many topics discussed this time of year around the Yankees, one of them has to be Phil Hughes' changeup.
You heard it last spring and it didn’t translate into the season so, who knows?” Hughes said after throwing two scoreless innings Tuesday afternoon against the Pirates. “Right now I feel like it’s a good pitch for me. Hopefully I can carry that over into April when it really matters.”
Last year the problem wasn't that that the changeup didn't translate into April, it was Hughes not giving it a chance to.
“The first half last year, things were going so well and I wasn’t throwing it and I figured I didn’t need it,” Hughes said. “When it came down to the second half when I did need it, I kept trying to throw harder or throw more curveballs and I didn’t go to it until the very end of the year where I knew I needed to make a change because what I was doing wasn’t working.”
Hughes, with the help of pitching coach Larry Rothschild, isn't trying to reinvent the wheel.
“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 take the speed off the ball like he does. But I think it can be usable.”
Which is all Joe Girardi and the Yankees are looking for.
"I think it’s important for him to take the next step because there’s going to be days where you don’t have that curveball right away, you don’t have your cutter right away, and you want something to give the hitters a different look," Girardi said. "And the more pitches you have, the more different looks you can give as you go through the lineup the second and third and, hopefully, the fourth time."