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Huff makes strong case for starting role

Huff makes strong case for starting role

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NEW YORK -- Before Monday's game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn't have any options to replace struggling starter Phil Hughes in the rotation.

He might have found one during the 9-1 victory over the White Sox.

After Hughes' day was cut short by a one-hour and 53-minute rain delay, long reliever David Huff fired 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits.

"He did a really nice job," Girardi said. "He's pitched well for us. Those were big innings for us where we didn't have to use like four or five guys in the bullpen, and that helps."

Huff has now thrown 15 innings since being called up on Aug. 15, giving up just one run on six hits and five walks.

"Sometimes with new guys, you're trying to figure out if they're going to be that consistent," catcher Austin Romine said. "And he's been nothing but consistent for us."

Girardi said he didn't have options to replace Hughes before the game because David Phelps and Michael Pineda are both hurt, but Huff gives the skipper an interesting option. The left-hander was stretched out as a starter during his time with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Huff said he's able to throw as many as 110 pitches in a game.

Hughes, meanwhile, has struggled mightily this season, losing 11 of his last 13 decisions and compiling a 6.12 ERA since the start of August. He threw just 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Monday before the rain delay.

"He had good stuff today, and I was actually excited. I firmly thought this would be where we turned it around, and he was cruising," Romine said. "And then the rain came. And that's just how it's going for him. He was really good."

Girardi said after Monday's game that he had made no changes to the team's rotation. Asked if Huff could get a start going forward, Girardi said, "We'll play it by ear."

Huff said he's comfortable both out of the bullpen and in the rotation.

"I'm just hopeful to get innings," Huff said. "We're trying to make a playoff push right now, and we're just trying to go out there and win ballgames."

Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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