Changeup a priority for Hughes

Changeup a priority for Hughes

BOSTON -- There were no fielders. There were no fans. But Phil Hughes brought the same intensity to Monday's simulated game in Tampa, Fla., that he hopes to bring to the Yankee Stadium mound next week.

Hughes, who won't start until April 15 against the Angels, featured a sharp curveball and changeup in throwing 70 of his 100 pitches for strikes.

"He was great yesterday," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Tuesday's game at Fenway Park. "He threw really, really well."

As he did all of Spring Training, Hughes spent much of his outing working on honing his changeup into game shape. And it apparently worked. Hughes struck out 12 Minor Leaguers and scattered three hits over 8 1/3 shutout innings.

"My confidence in general with it is tremendous right now," Hughes said of his changeup. "I just hope it translates over when I have to make big pitches in the middle of some tough innings. I think that's going to be a real test for me."