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For Hughes, focus not on subpar start

For Hughes, focus not on subpar start

NEW YORK -- It's a basic tenet of statistics that correlation does not equal causation. So even though Phil Hughes' worst outing of the 2010 season happened to come after his turn in the rotation was skipped, that doesn't mean the extra rest caused Hughes' struggles on Tuesday.

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.

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"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."

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