As Craig noted this morning, Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes was magnificent Tuesday against the White Sox, hurling six scoreless innings before his start was halted due to a Chicago storm.
The dominant performance has earned Hughes at least one more week in the Yanks’ rotation.
Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger brings word that the 25-year-old has been OK’d to make his next scheduled start, Tuesday against the Angels. The Yankees haven’t decided what to do with 24-year-old Ivan Nova, who has also been sharp, and for a much longer stretch than Hughes. A six-man rotation may soon become a reality in the Bronx.
Hughes has displayed improved velocity on his fastball and the Yanks are likely hoping that he can suddenly round into his 2010 form. They hold a commanding seven-game lead in the American League Wild Card standings but the postseason rotation looks iffy beyond CC Sabathia (and maybe Bartolo Colon).
Nova will try to do some proving in Thursday night’s series finale against the White Sox. Then it’ll be Hughes’ turn Tuesday evening against second-place Anaheim. And so on, and so on.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.