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04/07/08 12:15 AM ET

Hughes opens Yanks' lengthy trip

New York (4-3) at Kansas City (4-2), Tuesday, 4:10 p.m. ET

Blame the schedule makers for this stretch, but it won't do much good. The Yankees are about to adjust to life almost exclusively on the road, whether they're looking forward to it or not. Eighteen of their next 20 games are away from home.

"It's just part of the baseball life, and every team is going to go through it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You have to be resilient, and it's no excuse. You have to play the game today, and you have to play the game tomorrow. Players find their ways to get rest, and we find a way to keep them fresh."

The long road stretch begins on Tuesday, when the Yankees play the first of three games in Kansas City. From there, they'll travel to Boston, then south to St. Petersburg before returning home. And that's not all. After two home games against the Red Sox, they'll turn right back around for another 10-game, three-city trip.

"Any time you go on the road, it's a challenge," Girardi said. "But I think if you're going to go on the road that much, it's probably easier when you're fresher during the season. Part of the difficulty of going on the road is we get into cities really late and guys lose a lot of sleep. From a physical standpoint, guys aren't too beat up yet and they're not really run down, so you hope that their bodies will bounce back a little quicker."

They won't have to worry about freshness from 21-year-old starter Phil Hughes, who nearly won his first game last week -- and certainly could have. He'll oppose right-hander Brian Bannister in what will be the home opener at Kauffman Stadium.

That won't be an easy task, considering the Royals have jumped out to a 4-2 record, opening the season with a sweep of the Tigers. Only compounding that difficulty is the fact that the Yankees played a night game on Monday, then took an overnight charter across half the country, just to arrive on time for Tuesday's matinee.

"We'll all be tired," reliever Brian Bruney said. "We'll probably play good, though."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Phil Hughes (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
Hughes didn't earn a win in his first start last week -- though he probably deserved to, allowing two runs in six innings against the Blue Jays. He'll look for more of the same against the Royals, who gave Hughes the worst punishment of his career last August. In just his third career start and his first back from an injury, Hughes earned a no-decision only after the Royals tagged him for six runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings.

KC: RHP Brian Bannister (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Bannister tamed the much-hyped Tigers in his first start of the season, blanking them -- Miguel Cabrera and all -- for seven innings at Comerica Park. He'll make his home debut against the Yankees, a team that scored seven runs off him in a Royals loss last season.

Royals outfielder David DeJesus needed only one game to amass three RBIs against Hughes last year, singling and doubling in three at-bats. ... Alex Rodriguez hit a home run in each of his two career at-bats against Bannister. ... With three strikeouts on Monday, Mike Mussina tied David Cone for 21st on the all-time list with 2,665. Mussina also tied Bob Gibson for 42nd place with his 251st win. ... Girardi said that his upper-respiratory infection had cleared considerably on Monday, and his ailing daughter had improved as well. "I could hear her squawking in the car, so that was a good sign," he said.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 0-1, 23.14) at Royals (Zack Greinke, 1-0, 1.29), 8:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 0-1, 5.40) at Royals (John Bale, 0-1, 5.68), 8:10 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (TBD) at Red Sox (Clay Buchholz, 0-1, 5.40), 7:05 p.m. ET

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.