CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phil Hughes, working to return from a bulging disk in his upper back, pitched in a simulated game Monday and should make his next appearance this weekend in a Minor League game.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the right-hander could do so Saturday, while the Yankees' big league club travels to play the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla. Hughes has been optimistic that he will be ready to go when his first turn in the starting rotation comes around, but there's a possibility he'll have to miss his first start.
If Hughes isn't ready to pitch the first time the Yankees need a fifth starter, they will likely just use both fifth-starter candidates -- Ivan Nova and David Phelps -- the first time through the rotation and carry an extra long reliever, perhaps right-hander Adam Warren or lefty Vidal Nuno.
"That's probably what we would do," Girardi said. "You could take eight relievers, too. I'd prefer to keep the five-man rotation, but if we have to make a little adjustment, we can."
Girardi confirmed that the Yankees' plan, at this point, is still to use whoever loses the fifth-starter competition as the long reliever in the bullpen when Hughes slots back into the rotation.
"But that could change," Girardi said.
Jeter's ankle 'cranky,' so shortstop rests
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Derek Jeter had been told to expect some stiffness and soreness in the area around his surgically repaired left ankle, and he had been able to play through it until Tuesday.
But as he was getting ready to make his fourth start of the spring at shortstop, Jeter was scratched from the Yankees' starting lineup due to a stiffer-than-usual feeling at the front of his ankle. The Yankees' captain reiterated that the part of his ankle he fractured last October was fine, and he wouldn't term what happened Tuesday as a setback.
"I was told that you're going to feel it, not necessarily in the ankle but around the ankle, just because I was in a boot for so long that you come out and it's going to take some time to strengthen it. It's normal," Jeter said. "You've just got to deal with it and move on. If I wasn't told that, then I would be concerned. But that's what I've been told."
Jeter was slated to bat second and play shortstop against the Phillies at Bright House Field, and he took batting practice on the field with the rest of the team. But he had a hard time getting his ankle loose, so he went to head athletic trainer Steve Donohue. He then told manager Joe Girardi, who opted to take Jeter out of the lineup.
Jeter was seen Tuesday by Dr. Daniel Murphy, and precautionary X-rays were taken and a precautionary MRI was performed. The X-rays were negative and the MRI found mild inflammation of the ankle, leaving Jeter, who earlier in the day described his ankle as an "old-fashioned day to day," hoping to return to action Wednesday.
"When you're dealing with a rehab, coming back from injury, you're going to deal with some ups and downs. That's the bottom line," Girardi said. "Very seldom do you ever come back from a rehab where it just goes completely smooth. It's really went well up until this point. We've had a lot of good days. Today happened to be a not-so-good day."
Jeter fractured his left ankle during Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, had surgery on it later that month and played in his first Spring Training game on March 9. He made his first start at shortstop on March 13.
At some point over the next few weeks, Girardi planned to ramp up Jeter's innings at shortstop, though both he and Jeter said it wouldn't be necessary to play a full nine innings there before the regular season begins. Girardi said this latest development might affect the plan going forward. Earlier Tuesday morning, Girardi said that plan could involve Jeter being the Yankees' Opening Day designated hitter, not shortstop.
"I'd like to have him at shortstop on Opening Day, but if we collectively feel he could use a few more days, we'll wait," Girardi said. "I've said all along we've got to play it by ear. My goal is to have him at shortstop, and that's his goal. But we might have to make some adjustments on the fly."
Jeter has said repeatedly that he will be ready to play shortstop come Opening Day, though he added Tuesday that he'll line up wherever he's told to play. He didn't think Tuesday's stiffness would change whether he'll be ready to take the field on April 1.
"I think when it's good, it's good. I don't think you have to necessarily scale back innings, but I don't know," Jeter said. "I haven't done this before, so it's a matter of just going out and playing and see what happens. Like I told you guys last week, in Spring Training you don't play nine innings anyway. So I don't necessarily think it's in terms of scaling back innings. It's just getting out there and playing on those particular days."
Jeter said two weeks is plenty of time for him to get ready to play, and he's had enough good days this spring to believe that Tuesday's stiffness won't be a problem come Wednesday. His recovery hasn't been easy, but he didn't necessarily expect it to be, either.
"I was frustrated when I couldn't walk, frustrated when I couldn't run, frustrated I can't go out there and play," Jeter said. "But that's part of the whole rehab process."
Logan debuts, feels in midseason form
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Left-hander Boone Logan made his spring debut Tuesday against the Phillies, allowing one hit while striking out two in a scoreless fifth inning at Bright House Field.
"That's what I was expecting. I wanted to go out there and get the job done," said Logan, who had been sidelined by a sore left elbow. "I wasn't going to have the first game be an excuse to not get my job done. On top of that, it does feel extra good to go out there and get a couple strikeouts, to do well against lefties."
Logan expected he'll feel some "typical soreness" on Wednesday, but he hasn't felt any pain in quite some time. He admitted that he might have to ice his arm every day he pitches, which he never used to do. But he has done it this spring, thinks it's helped and figures he'll stick with it once the regular season begins.
With his first outing out of the way, Logan has about two weeks to get ready for the season, enough time for him to make about four more Grapefruit League appearances. In his mind, that's enough time to be available should manager Joe Girardi call his name on Opening Day.
"If I can stay the way I'm feeling right now, I'll be in good shape," Logan said.
Logan shrugged off the idea that his 2012 workload -- he pitched 55 1/3 innings over an American League-leading 80 appearances -- may have contributed to his soreness this spring. And Girardi said he believes he'll be able to use the lefty just as often this season as he did last year, if necessary.
Logan didn't expect to have any limitations placed on him this year, either. And if he feels like he did Tuesday, he said, he won't need any.
"It's a little premature, but I felt midseason today," Logan said. "That was the first game back, also, so it could probably change the next couple games. I'll probably settle down a little bit."
• Yankees ace CC Sabathia will pitch in a game at the Yankees' Minor League complex on Wednesday while the big league club faces the Red Sox. Sabathia will likely make his final appearance of the spring on March 26 against the Astros -- Girardi said it would be a "heavy workload day" -- then start on Opening Day against the Red Sox.
• Ronnier Mustelier, competing for a roster spot, returned to the lineup Tuesday and went 0-for-2. He had been sidelined since Friday after suffering multiple leg bruises while chasing down a fly ball. Mustelier said through an interpreter Tuesday morning that he was feeling "a lot better" and that he believes he still has enough time to prove he deserves a spot on the Yankees' Opening Day roster.
"I feel good," he said. "Ten days are enough to show what I can do."
• Left-hander Clay Rapada, who's been shut down for nearly two weeks due to bursitis in his throwing shoulder, is playing catch. His status for Opening Day has not been determined.
• Robinson Cano, currently playing with the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, should fly back to Florida on Wednesday and rejoin the Yankees on Thursday. Girardi said he would check in with the second baseman, who's been swinging a hot bat in the Classic, before deciding when to put him back in the lineup.
"I've got to see how he's doing physically," Girardi said. "I know he's playing a lot of nine-inning games. I know he's getting a lot of good at-bats. I don't want him to waste too many more hits."
• Left-hander Andy Pettitte and closer Mariano Rivera pitched in Minor League games on the Yankees' off-day Monday. Pettitte gave up two runs on eight hits while striking out seven, while Rivera struck out four batters over two innings.