NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Before Opening Day, most Yankees fans were worried about A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova or Freddy Garcia being the weak link in the Yankees’ rotation.
Add Phil Hughes to the list.
Hughes’ fastball was lacking zip on Sunday as he gave up two long home runs to Miguel Cabrera. In spring training, Hughes’ velocity was around 88 mph, lower than the 93-94 he normally reaches.
After the loss, Hughes admitted his lack of velocity is “a little disconcerting right now,” but added, “I feel fine.”
“It’s just arm strength or whatever it is,” Hughes said. “My velocity is not where I would like it to be at this stage.”
The Yankees have high expectations for Hughes, their latest homegrown All-Star. After going 18-8 last season, he’s moved up from the No. 5 spot in the rotation to third and he was given retired Andy Pettitte’s old locker in the New York clubhouse.
“This is going to be a concern until you see it,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “When you get going and start to see velocity, you can relax a little.”
LISTEN: Phil Hughes talks with WCBS 880’s Suzyn Waldman prior to Sunday’s outing
In his brief career in the rotation, Hughes has not been able to limit his mistakes at home. Last season, his first full year as a starter, Hughes tied for the major league lead for homers allowed at home with 20.
“I was more concerned about his locating the baseball and the fact that he didn’t do it today,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes guys who throw harder take a while longer. The big concern is not locating.”
“I think he’s trying to generate velocity and losing location because of it,” added Rothschild.
Hughes allowed five runs and five hits in four innings over 90 pitches.
“I hope in the next two or three starts it comes around and it’s not a story,” Hughes said. “It’s tough for me to pitch at this velocity, so I have to turn it around.”
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