By Sweeny Murti
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By the numbers, Phil Hughes’ first spring outing wasn’t what you would hope for — 1 1/3 innings, four hits, two runs.  But just because Hughes is in competition for a rotation spot and is coming off a bad 2011 season, that doesn’t mean his first outing should be treated any differently than anybody else’s.

Ex-Yankee Mike Mussina used to always tell us that the first outing is all about getting comfortable again on the mound, standing 60 feet, 6 inches from an opposing hitter and trying to get him out, something you haven’t had to do in four or five months. Staff ace CC Sabathia practically echoed that thought after his first two innings of the spring on Tuesday, in which he allowed a run on three hits

But Hughes will be looked at differently just because of his regression from 2010 to 2011, and he knows it.  From 18-game winner and All-Star to injury-plagued disappointment, Hughes is now fighting for a rotation spot again. The righty knew he had to come to camp in better shape this spring, and he responded.

Hear Hughes discuss his mindset coming into camp:

Hughes had troubles from the very beginning last spring, and he offered this insight into what happened last year:

Listen to Hughes break down last season:

Fastball velocity became the tell-all sign for Hughes last spring and summer.  In his first outing on Tuesday, his fastball got up to 93 mph and he seemed genuinely pleased with that number so early in camp.

There’s still a month to go before the games count for real, so take all these numbers in stride.  I’m still counting on the fact that the good Hughes we saw in 2010 is the real Hughes, and that’s the guy who will be starting for the Yankees in 2012.

Sweeny Murti

Was Hughes’ 2010 a fluke? Is he really just a back-of-the-rotation guy? Sound off below…