NEW YORK -- With an eye on Phil Hughes' creeping innings total, the Yankees will skip the right-hander on Sunday against the Rangers, sending Dustin Moseley to the mound instead.

It will be the second time this season that Hughes has missed a start, having also been passed over when his turn came up on June 25 in Los Angeles. But it could be coming at a good time for Hughes, who is 1-2 with a 7.98 ERA in his last three starts.

"If anything, I'll be thrown back into rhythm," said Hughes, who will instead start on Sept. 15 against the Rays at Tropicana Field. "I've kind of been out of rhythm for a while. Maybe it'll change something."

The Yankees have declined to publicly state where Hughes' innings limit lies, but it is widely believed to be between 170 and 180. Hughes has hurled 155 1/3 frames in 26 starts.

"I don't know if there's ever an exact right time to skip a start, but the one thing that you want is him to be able to do what he needs to do down the stretch," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

"We just thought that because we do have some off-days in there, too, we want to get him on his regular turn as much as we can going down the stretch."

Owning a 16-7 record with a 4.29 ERA, Hughes said that he felt like he made progress in his last bullpen session, even though his start -- when he allowed six runs in six innings against the Blue Jays on Sunday -- might not have indicated it.

"I feel like I'm starting to get back on track -- if anything, this will give me more time to work," Hughes said.

The Yankees may consider using Hughes for an inning in relief during the club's upcoming series at Texas, a possible harbinger of things to come. While Hughes can be considered for postseason starts without affecting the innings limit, the Yankees may also opt to use him out of the bullpen in the playoffs.

"I showed last year I could do the bullpen thing, so we'll have to see what they want to do," Hughes said. "I try to put my ego aside when it comes to all of that. I came into Spring Training trying to be the fifth starter. At this point, I don't feel like I deserve to be [one of] the top three guys."

Aceves, Marte likely lost for season

NEW YORK -- The Yankees no longer expect to have pitchers Alfredo Aceves and Damaso Marte return from the disabled list this season.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Aceves was scheduled to be seen on Wednesday by a specialist to evaluate the right-hander's strained lower back, which has kept him out of action at the big league level since May.

Marte has been out since July with inflammation and soreness in his left shoulder, and though he continues strengthening exercises, the left-hander has not been able to resume throwing.

"We will not get Aceves back this year," said Girardi, who then added, "Marte, my thought is we probably won't get him back."

Girardi said that Aceves had more physical problems after a recent rehab outing for Double-A Trenton, and that surgery is possible.

"I think any time you're at the point where he's at, it's an option you're going to look at," Girardi said.

Marte is holding out hope that he can return to action in the postseason, but since he is still unable to throw at this point in time, it seems unlikely.

"I don't feel good with my shoulder," Marte said. "I tried to work it hard to help the team win in the playoffs. But I don't feel good. ... It's very difficult. I don't know what I have in my shoulder. I feel sore."

The Yankees' bullpen has been a strength, combining for a 1.54 ERA with 104 strikeouts and a .186 opponents' batting average since July 26. Still, there could have been room for both pitchers, had they returned.

"We would love to have them both back, because we saw how important they were to our bullpen last year," Girardi said. "Fortunately, we've had some guys that have done a great job and picked up the slack in their absence, but I don't think you can ever have too many arms."

Mo tips cap to Hoffman for No. 600

NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera applauded Trevor Hoffman's 600th save on Wednesday, one day after the Brewers hurler became the first pitcher to reach the plateau by protecting a 4-2 win over the Cardinals.

"That's a tremendous milestone," Rivera said. "Lee Smith had [478] saves for a long, long time. Now Hoffman has 600 saves, and that's beautiful. God bless him, and I wish him the best."

Rivera is next on baseball's all-time list with 555 saves entering play on Wednesday, and though the pitchers have toiled in separate leagues for their entire careers, there is a sort of kinship between the veteran closers.

Matched against each other in the 1998 World Series, when Hoffman's Padres played the Yankees, Rivera said he had a chance to speak with Hoffman a little bit, and they have also engaged at various All-Star Game functions over the years.

"I respect Hoffman a lot," Rivera said. "I admire him, the way he takes care of himself and the way he respects the game. To me, that is precious and worthy of respect. Hopefully, he continues."

It has been a trying season for Hoffman, who lost his closer's job in May but has been supplied with opportunities recently by the Brewers to help him reach the milestone. Tuesday's save was Hoffman's ninth in 13 chances this year.

Meanwhile, Rivera is just as dominant as he has been at any point in his career, having earned selection as an All-Star and posted a 1.03 ERA to go along with 29 saves. Just 45 away from reaching 600 saves himself, Rivera says he doesn't consider what his final total might be.

"I don't think about it," Rivera said. "I think there are a lot of things that you don't control, and we sometimes worry too much about it. I don't think like that. If God allows it, that's how it will happen."