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04/24/08 1:30 AM ET

Hughes out to reverse misfortune

New York (12-10) at Chicago (11-9), Thursday, 8:11 p.m. ET

CHICAGO -- The pop on Phil Hughes' fastball, the 21-year-old insists, is fine.

While some eagle-eyed fans watch every digit that flashes on the screen during the right-hander's starts, raising questions about velocity, neither Hughes nor pitching coach Dave Eiland are particularly concerned with the speed. Just like the real estate market, it's all about location.

"It's really not the issue right now," Hughes said. "It's more about my command than anything. It all comes back to command, command, command. Your curveball could be the best in the world, but if you don't throw a fastball for a strike, they're not going to hit it -- they'll lay off it. It all stems from command of the fastball."

Hughes gets to try again on Thursday, making his fifth start of the season against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. A Chicago newbie, he'll hope for better luck after faring 0-3 in the three other parks he's debuted at this season -- Kauffman Stadium, Fenway Park and Camden Yards.

His last time out, Hughes allowed five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings to the Orioles. It was a start that went south from the fifth inning on, as Hughes opened the sixth locked into a 1-1 tie with the Birds.

"If I get through that sixth inning and my pitch count is low, it's a completely different ballgame," Hughes said. "That's the thing I've got to try to stay away from, being so fine. I did a better job of getting ahead in the count. Once I work ahead in the count, I don't throw too many pitches."

Hughes said that he'd like to throw his changeup more on Thursday, and he feels his curveball has been pretty good, as well as his slider. It's just a matter of getting to those secondary pitches. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Hughes is handling the early rough patch like a pro.

"I wouldn't worry about it unless I saw it in his approach," Girardi said. "I have not seen his approach change from his good start to his not-so-good start. His work is the same, and he goes about his work the right way. I think he's focused on what he needs to do."

As for Hughes' velocity, he was touted coming up through the Yankees' farm system as owning a mid-90s fastball, which may have skewed observers' expectations somewhat.

More accurately, Hughes said he checked his radar gun readings after every start for Double-A Trenton of the Eastern League, watching his max velocity for the night usually hit 93 and 94 mph. There were only three occasions during the entire 2006 season that Hughes touched 95 mph -- for the most part this season, he has ridden between 90 and 92 mph.

"I've got to pitch well, and everything will take care of itself," Hughes said. "I don't look at a couple of bad starts as the end of the world."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Phil Hughes (0-3, 8.82 ERA)
The adjustment period continues for Hughes, who suffered his third consecutive loss on Friday at Baltimore, allowing five runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. The Yankees outwardly say they are not concerned about Hughes' early lack of results, even though he is winless in his first four starts. Girardi believed that Hughes threw the ball better in Baltimore and that he could build off the effort. Hughes allowed only one run through the first five innings before the wheels fell off. This will be Hughes' first career start against the White Sox and his first at U.S. Cellular Field.

CWS: RHP Gavin Floyd (2-0, 1.40 ERA)
After carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning during last Saturday's home start against Detroit, Floyd flirted with history once again on Thursday in Baltimore by retiring the first 12 hitters he faced. In fact, Floyd allowed one questionable Kevin Millar hit until Nick Markakis launched a two-run, game-tying home run with two outs in the sixth inning. Over his last two starts, Floyd has allowed three hits over 13 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run. His true test could come on Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field against the Yankees, as he holds a 15.00 ERA when facing the Bronx Bombers in just three career innings.

Jorge Posada surpassed Earle Combs for 12th place on the Yankees' all-time doubles list on Wednesday, legging out his 310th as part of a career-high three two-baggers. ... Melky Cabrera has reached base safely in 19 of his 20 games, and he has at least one hit in 15 games. ... Derek Jeter has four multi-RBI games in his last nine. ... Johnny Damon is hitting .381 (8-for-21) with seven runs and seven RBIs on the Yankees' road trip.

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Up next
• Friday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 3-1, 2.45) at Indians (Paul Byrd, 0-2, 4.43), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 0-2, 9.64) at Indians (Jeremy Sowers, 0-0, -.--), 3:55 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 4-0, 3.94) at Indians (C.C. Sabathia, 1-3, 10.13), 1:05 p.m. ET

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