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Yankees Camp Notes: Jeter works out, Hughes throws in Minor League game

03/22/2013 2:03 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Phil Hughes threw 57 pitches, 34 for strikes, in three innings of a Minor League game Friday. (AP)
On Thursday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Derek Jeter won’t suit up in a Major League game for the rest of the spring, with the team to restrict him to Minor League work so they can protect their ability to backdate a disabled list stint for the Captain if needed.

Well, less than 24 hours later, Jeter was back on the field for the first time since getting a cortisone shot in his ankle earlier this week, taking batting practice and fielding ground balls – but not running the bases – in a workout at the Yankees complex.

Afterward, Jeter told the media he understands Cashman’s decision, but he hopes to change the GM’s mind sometime in the next week.

“I understand it, but I also know plans change sometimes,” Jeter said. “When I’m ready to play, I’ll play here (on the major league field), I’ll play anywhere when I’m ready to play. It’s a day-to-day thing. Today was here. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Phil Hughes, meanwhile, threw 57 pitches (34 strikes) over three innings in a Minor League game, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and striking out three. Hughes told Meredith Marakovits afterwards that he is healthy but still building arm strength and should throw 70-75 pitches in his next outing, which will be sometime next week; however, the question, even with Hughes’ affirmation of fitness, is whether or not he’ll have enough time to build that arm strength enough to be able to throw 90-plus pitches and be ready for opening week.

Joe Girardi wasn’t sure about that Friday morning, telling the media that Hughes beginning the year on the disabled list might be inevitable.

“Don’t assume, but my guess is that he’s going to need some more pitching beside these next two starts,” Girardi said. “We’ve got a week to go and I can’t tell you what our need is going to be in a week. That’s the thing. That’s why I don’t want to say yeah, he’s definitely going to do it because things could change real quick.”

On a five-day schedule, Hughes could pitch in a Minor League game next Wednesday, then throw a simulated or Minor League game on Opening Day and ready to go April 6, which is the fifth game of the Yankees’ season and also the first day a player could be activated from a backdated disabled list stint).

However, both David Phelps and Ivan Nova have had good springs overall, so the Yankees may be able to wait, let Hughes continue to build up by going on the DL and then making rehab starts in the Minors, and bringing him up in mid-April.

“It all depends on how (Hughes) is throwing,” Girardi said. “I really want to see how he does these next two starts before I really say where he’s going to be. He’s got the start today, and he’ll have another five days later. Let’s see how many pitches and how far he goes.”

Other notes from Yankees camp Friday:

-Clay Rapada, who is coming back from a bout with shoulder bursitis, threw 15 fastballs from the mound, but Joe Girardi indicated that “his guess” is the lefty will begin the season on the disabled list.

Rapada said he is about a week or two behind scheduled and hopes to be ready sometime in April, but acknowledged that he knows his specialist role means he needs to be able to pitch three or four days in a row.

“I can be a small piece to the winning puzzle, but if I’m not fully recovered I don’t want to set back the team more,” Rapada said. “If I can’t go back to back days, I feel like I’d put a lot more strain. I don’t feel like I’m very far off, but I don’t expect it to be long.”

Rapada pitched just 38 1/3 innings in 70 appearances last year, so his effectiveness truly is in short but frequent bursts. Girardi said earlier in the spring that it’s not mandatory for the Yankees to carry two lefties right away, so that opens the door for guys like Cody Eppley, Shawn Kelley, and Jim Miller to fill the final bullpen spot; if he does go with a southpaw, however, the likeliest candidates are all non-roster invitees, including Josh Spence, Juan Cedeno, and perhaps even Vidal Nuno.

-Josh Norris, the Trenton Thunder beat writer for The Trentonian, spoke with Yankees VP Mark Newman yesterday at Minor League camp, and Newman said Mark Montgomery is “not in the mix for the Trenton bullpen,” likely meaning the fireballer is ticketed for Triple-A.

Montgomery was drafted in 2011 and has rocketed through the system, finishing last season with Trenton, where he was 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 24 innings. He owns a career 14.6 K/9 in the Minors and has four in 5.2 spring innings so far this year, and it appears as if folks in NEPA may be the next to get a look at the man who could be Mariano Rivera’s heir apparent.

-A handful of Yankees that aren’t in Fort Myers went across the street to take part in Minor League games; Francisco Cervelli was set to catch Hiroki Kuroda in the Triple-A game today, and Travis Hafner will get a handful of at-bats in either the Triple-A or Double-A game (or perhaps both). -Bobby Wilson, who was hit in the finger by a foul tip yesterday, has Friday off but is on Saturday’s travel roster for the Yankees’ trip to Lakeland, so he appears to be okay. Andy Pettitte will start that game, and the traveling squad also included Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner, Kevin Youkilis, Brennan Boesch (who was scratched Friday), Travis Hafner, and four of the six relievers mentioned above as of this afternoon.

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