Yankees prepping Phil Hughes for bullpen role in playoffs

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Phil Hughes hasn’t pitched since September 12 because of back problems and now that he’s healthy enough to potentially see some game action again the Yankees are preparing him for a bullpen role.

“That is what we are going to look at during the playoffs,” manager Joe Girardi told Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, noting that Hughes will be available out of the bullpen for the final series of the regular season versus the Rays.

Hughes has pitched poorly for most of the season and doesn’t have enough time left to build back his arm strength for lengthy outings, but his track record as a reliever is extremely strong. He spent nearly all of 2009 in the bullpen and has made 47 of his 118 career appearances as a reliever, throwing 54 innings with a 1.51 ERA and 68/14 K/BB ratio.

New York’s rotation is a big question mark, but Hughes joining David Robertson and Rafael Soriano in setting up Mariano Rivera could make the bullpen a major strength.

Yankees acquire A.J. Cole from the Nats

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The New York Yankees have acquired reliever A.J. Cole from the Washington Nationals for cash considerations.

Cole was supposed to be the Nats’ fifth starter this year but that didn’t work out too well. He pitched in four games for the Nats, starting two, to the tune of a 13.06 ERA, having given up six home runs in 10.1 innings. That’s . . . something.

Don’t get too used to Cole on the New York roster, as this seems like one of those “give us an arm” for a couple of days deals, after which Cole will be DFA’d and will either accept an assignment to Scranton or be cut loose. Such is life at the fringes for a guy who is out of minor league options.