Yankees shift Hughes to bullpen role

Yankees shift Hughes to bullpen role

Yankees shift Hughes to bullpen role
NEW YORK -- Hector Noesi and Bartolo Colon have been slotted to start the first two games for the Yankees at St. Petersburg, while Phil Hughes is destined for the bullpen for the rest of the regular season -- and for at least the start of the playoffs.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi made the announcement after Sunday's 7-4, 14-inning loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium wrapped a doubleheader, but he did not yet know who would start the regular-season finale on Wednesday. "It might be a bullpen day," Girardi said.

The last three games come against the Rays.

As for Hughes, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 12 because of back issues, the right-hander -- who made himself available to pitch on Monday -- said he was disappointed he wouldn't get a chance to start in the American League Division Series but also took blame for that.

"Yeah, but I did it to myself," said the right-hander, who has gone 5-5 with a 6.00 ERA in 15 outings, 14 of which were starts. "I had the back issue coming off the start in Seattle, so therefore I didn't have an opportunity to pitch."

Hughes, who reported no problems with his lower back one day after throwing about 35 pitches in the bullpen at Yankee Stadium, said he would be available to pitch in back-to-back games during the playoffs if the Yankees felt his physical condition was up to it. He also said the decision to put him in relief was only for the first round, not beyond. Girardi did not specify.

"Right now, yeah, that's how we're going to look at it," Girardi said of Hughes going to the 'pen. "We might need some innings of him just because of this crazy game tonight, and we'll have to look at that."