06/30/10 6:43 PM ET
For Hughes, focus not on subpar start
Worst outing of season less important than long-term approach
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
The Yankees skipped Hughes when they had an extra day off on the West Coast in order to minimize the number of innings the 24-year-old throws in his first full season as a starter.
Even after he allowed a career-high 10 hits and season-high seven runs (six earned), Hughes didn't blame any part of his performance on having nine days off between starts.
"I felt better actually," he said. "The extra rest made me feel stronger."
Hughes wasn't the only young starter to struggle on Tuesday night after getting some extra time off. The Reds' Mike Leake, one of the rookie surprises of the National League, had his start bumped back two days to minimize his innings pitched in his first professional season. Leake also allowed a season-high six earned runs in Cincinnati's 9-6 loss to the Phillies.
Like Hughes, he resisted the temptation to connect his poor outing with the extra rest.
"It didn't really do anything for now. You won't see the extra days' rest until later in the season. That's when it will pay off," Leake said. "You like to come out quick after every outing and pitch after four days. It just gave me a couple of extra days' rest and thinking. Sometimes, thinking can be a bad thing."
Manager Joe Girardi preached the same long-term approach both after Hughes' start on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.
"We're looking at it over the long haul. We're not just looking at this start. We're looking at making sure this young man stays healthy," Girardi said. "This is something we've looked at long and hard. We've done a lot of research on it. ... It's also called developing, people."
Girardi and the Yankees went through the same thing last season with Joba Chamberlain, who received more rest in the second half of the season. Chamberlain's performance suffered, as his second-half ERA bloated to 5.40 after it was 4.05 before the All-Star break.
"You learn every time you go through it," said Girardi. "One thing that you can't predict is what your needs are at a certain time during the course of the season and how each guy is going to take it mentally. Every guy that you put through this is made up different. Joba is different than Phil. Phil is different than some of the kids I had to deal with in Florida."
Curtis gets first MLB start as Gardner sits
NEW YORK -- Brett Gardner was out of the lineup for a second consecutive day as he continues to recover from a right wrist contusion. Colin Curtis received the first start of his Major League career in left field.
"It feels so much better today than it did yesterday. The swelling's gone down a lot," said Gardner. "Hopefully tomorrow I feel better and take a full [batting practice] on the field."
Gardner did not hit before Wednesday's game as initially planned. After the team took BP on the field, Gardner was going in for treatment and said there was still a chance he would hit in the cages during the game.
"I think I probably could hit today, but it's up to [the doctors]," Gardner said.
Gardner is available to pinch-run and be a defensive replacement, and he said he could play Thursday even if he doesn't hit at all on Wednesday.
Curtis, meanwhile, is excited to get his first starting nod in the big leagues. The 25-year-old appeared in all six games on the Yankees' recent road trip, going 2-for-6 at the plate and driving in four runs.
"I don't really know what to expect yet," said Curtis, who was thrown into the fire against Felix Hernandez, before the game. "He's a great pitcher, but if you're going to be successful, you're going to have to face those guys eventually."
Curtis did, of course, deliver the game-tying RBI groundout on Sunday in Los Angeles after a 10-pitch battle with Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton.
With Gardner day-to-day and Marcus Thames on the disabled list, the Yankees have been a bit patchwork in the outfield. Chad Huffman replaced Gardner on Sunday and got the start on Tuesday. Manager Joe Girardi doesn't have a problem playing his youngsters.
"I'm comfortable. These kids have played well for us. They play hard, and you know you're going to get everything from them that they've got that night," Girardi said. "Curtis I saw a lot in Spring Training, and I really liked what he did."
Eiland jumps in working with Burnett
NEW YORK -- Pitching coach Dave Eiland went right to work with A.J. Burnett on Wednesday. Burnett, who struggled mightily while Eiland was on leave, threw his regular bullpen session before his Friday start against the Blue Jays.
Eiland worked with Burnett on keeping his left side closed and getting "all [his] energy going toward home plate."
"It's not like I gave him anything new today," Eiland said. "[Bullpen coach] Mike Harkey was telling him the same thing."
Burnett's woes began the same day Eiland left the team on June 4 in Toronto. Since then, the right-hander is 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA. Eiland returned from his 25-day absence on Tuesday.
Marcus Thames will make his first rehab appearance as the designated hitter for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Pawtucket, R.I., on Wednesday. Thames has been out since June 13 with a strained right hamstring. ... The Yankees' 30 errors are the second-fewest miscues in the American League, but the Bombers have committed five in the last three games. ... Jorge Posada was the designated hitter for the second consecutive game on Wednesday. "He's physically fine," manager Joe Girardi said, adding that he would continue to use the DH spot to rest his regulars for the foreseeable future.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.