Phil Hughes to start 2013 on the disabled list

Joe Girardi confirms Hughes to DL, David Phelps 'likely' to start April 6
03/27/2013 3:17 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Phil Hughes threw five innings in a Minor League game on Wednesday. (AP)
Yankees manager Joe Girardi revealed Wednesday afternoon that pitcher Phil Hughes will definitely open the season on the disabled list, but where he goes from there is still up in the air.

According to Girardi, the Yankees' plan is for Hughes to make two more Minor League starts before being activated, which would push his return back to at least April 11 if he stays on his current schedule. David Phelps is slated as of now to start for the Yankees on April 6, when the team will need a fifth starter for the first time, but that could all change if team brass feels Hughes is ready.

“(Hughes) could do possibly the 6th if we think he's ready,” Girardi said. “But right now, as we have a plan here, I think you plan for giving him two more starts. But that doesn’t mean it necessarily has to happen. We might feel that he’s ready after the next one. We’ve just gotta be prepared for it more than anything. Can’t get in a situation where one of those guys throws out of the bullpen and then he has to make a start."

Hughes threw 81 pitches over five innings in a Minor League game on Wednesday, so in terms of pitch count, he could certainly be ready by April 6; Hughes has not appeared in a Major League spring game this season, so the Yankees could backdate his DL stint to March 22, and he would be eligible to return that day if so.

Until Hughes does return, however, the Yankees will have an opening in the bullpen, and Girardi stressed that the competition for that job in the final days is a wide open one because he still isn't sure if the team needs to carry a true long reliever for the first week or two.

"That’s something we’re going to have to discuss,” Girardi said. “Do you carry a true long man, or do you think, with the seven guys that you have, can they give you enough innings that you don’t need a true long man?”

Righty Adam Warren, who is on the 40-man roster, and lefty Vidal Nuno, who isn't, could be the favorites if Girardi did choose to bring a long man; otherwise, the Yankees also have RHPs Shawn Kelley, Cody Eppley, and newly-acquired Sam Demel on the 40-man roster, and have five non-roster invitees - righties Branden Pinder, Preston Claiborne, and Jim Miller and southpaws Juan Cedeno and Josh Spence - still in camp as well.

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