- Last Updated: 8:17 AM, April 15, 2012
- Posted: 2:39 AM, April 15, 2012
Back in March, Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes was opening eyes by seemingly returning to the form that made him an All-Star in 2010, and catcher Russell Martin was as impressed as anyone.
Though the velocity has been there in Hughes’ first two starts of the regular season, not much else has, and Martin still is waiting to see the former version of the right-hander.
“I know it’s there,” Martin said after Hughes was knocked out in the fourth inning of a 7-1 loss to the Angels at Yankee Stadium yesterday that snapped the Yankees’ four-game winning streak. “I saw it this spring.”
But he didn’t see it in Tampa Bay in Hughes’ previous outing and he was even less effective yesterday, surrendering six runs in 3 1/3 innings.
“He pitches with his fastball up in the zone,” Martin said. “He likes doing that with two strikes, but we were facing a premium fastball-hitting team. We probably should have approached some things differently.”
Martin pointed to the cutter to Howie Kendrick, which proved to be Hughes’ last pitch of the game, as Kendrick belted it into the left-field seats to give the Angels a 6-0 lead.
“I definitely wish we could have that one back,” Martin said.
But Hughes’ problems run deeper than one pitch.
Though he got plenty of swings and misses, when the Angels did connect, they usually hit it hard — like when Chris Iannetta lined a two-run home run to right in the second.
Hughes and manager Joe Girardi aren’t ready to panic, but with Andy Pettitte scheduled to throw 45-50 pitches for Class-A Tampa today in the third start of his comeback and Michael Pineda (right shoulder tendinitis) slated for a bullpen session Tuesday after throwing 10 pitches off a mound Friday, reality isn’t far away.
Asked if their potential return was on his mind, Hughes said: “Not yet.”
Hughes should have a few more starts before either pitcher is ready to return, and Girardi said he will look at how everyone is performing when the time comes — not now.
“I think you evaluate guys at the time, how they’re throwing and you don’t rush to judgment,” Girardi said. “You look at Pineda and expect him to get back to his form last year and look at Andy Pettitte and expect him to get back to the form of 2010 when he left us, but there are no guarantees. The only thing a pitcher can do is worry about his next start.”
Hughes wasn’t the only problem for the Yankees yesterday. A day after nearly everything went right for them in their home opener, the Bombers squandered scoring opportunities throughout the loss, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
That wasted a terrific performance out of the bullpen by David Phelps, who allowed just a Vernon Wells homer in 5 1/3 innings of relief.
But it was Hughes who bore the brunt of the blame, especially from the crowd of 46,829, who let loose a loud chorus of boos when he left the mound.
“I’m used to it, unfortunately,” Hughes said.
He will be back on the mound Thursday against the Twins, and he won’t be the only one looking for a different result.
“We have a deep bullpen,” Martin said. “Our goal is to get five or six innings from our starters and we’ll be in pretty good shape. We have to get him back there.”Follow @NYPostsports