Over four and a half years ago, Phil Hughes was mentioned prominently in a potential trade that would have brought Johan Santana to the Yankees.
So far, the Yankees’ confidence has seen its share of inconsistency, such as the 11-win first half two years ago that was followed by the velocity decrease last year.
“That backing helps,” Hughes said. “Confidence within the organization is certainly a good thing.”
Hughes will miss facing Santana, just like he did two years ago at Yankee Stadium when he pitched the day before. But coming off his first complete game, he will be one of the primary focuses Saturday night.
In his last start at Detroit, Hughes threw a four-hitter after making some adjustments with his fastball after getting some feedback from Andy Pettitte and pitching coach Larry Rothchild.
“That’s what you have to do,” Hughes said. “Sometimes you go out there and feel great, but things aren’t going to be going well off the bat. You have to find a way to get through it.”
Hughes is 5-5 with a 4.96 earned run average, though that number is inflated by a poor start to this season after being injured most of last season. He has won four of his last seven starts while lowering his ERA by nearly three runs.
“It’s been a roller coaster season, a roller coaster last few years,” Hughes said. “I’d like to bring a little more to the table.”
According to manager Joe Girardi, Hughes has brought more positive showings to the table despite his struggle in Anaheim on May 28.
“What I saw in Detroit was that his fastball seemed pretty true,” Girardi said. “He was able to stay away from right-handers without leaking back. He was able to go in to right-handers. I thought it was probably the best job he had done with expanding the zone with his curve ball.
“Those were the things that impressed me. I obviously think he can get back to that form.”
Can we go from six to three please?
The Yankees or Mets don’t have a say in scheduling matters, but if they were consulted, their preference would be to reduce the number of Subway Series games from six to three. It has been six games every year since 1999.
“I understand it is great for the fans,” Derek Jeter said. “They get an opportunity to see players they don’t normally see. I kind of liked it the other way.”
“I’ve always felt there should be three games because I think there should be a winner every year,” Girardi said.
After this series, fans of both teams will find themselves rooting for the other. The Mets will have six games against Baltimore and Tampa Bay while the Yankees will play six games against Atlanta and three against Washington.
“I hope they reciprocate and we do the best to help them,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Bay returns, Mets make other moves
Jason Bay returned to the Met lineup for the first time since injuring his ribs April 23 against San Francisco and when Collins posted the lineup card, Bay was the team’s eighth-place hitter.
“He hasn’t played in a couple of days,” Collins said. “He hasn’t played a lot in the last six weeks. As sick as he has been, I just want to put him where he’s comfortable.”
Bay’s return was delayed by a few days due to a recent bout with the flu.
The Mets also reinstated pitcher Chris Young from the paternity list and optioned Pedro Beato to the minors. They opted to keep Jeremy Hefner over Beato because Collins felt Hefner would be able to provide more innings if they were necessary.
Robertson gets ready for rehab
David Robertson appears to be moving closer towards returning from an oblique injury. He said that he felt fine throwing 25 pitches and that he will likely pitch at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre in a rehab game Sunday.
“I felt like I tested it yesterday,” Robertson said. “I threw the ball hard but the last thing I want to do is come back and say I’m fine [and get hurt].”
The Yankees feel that unless there are problems Robertson can return next weekend in Washington.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher. Metro will have online coverage of the Subway Series all weekend long.