ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes acknowledged some disappointment in being sent to the bullpen but hopes he will be able to contribute to the postseason run.
Sidelined since Sept. 12 with lower back stiffness, Hughes tossed 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Yankees in Monday's 5-2 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, issuing two walks and striking out a batter while allowing one hit. He's also expected to pitch again on Wednesday in preparation for the American League Division Series.
"After the back issue, I guess that pretty much sealed my fate," Hughes said. "But just being here is a good thing. I'll try to do my best to help out of the bullpen."
Hughes entered play on Monday with a 5-5 record and a 6.00 ERA in 15 games (14 starts). Though he has made 43 starts in the last two years, Hughes was used almost exclusively as a reliever in 2009, going 5-1 with a 1.40 ERA in 44 appearances out of the bullpen.
"He can be a multiple-inning guy for us [or] be a one-inning guy," manager Joe Girardi said. "We've seen him have a lot of success out of there. And that's why we think it's important to get him in there a couple of times."
Getting back to that mindset shouldn't be a problem, Hughes said, and he hopes that a good postseason could turn around a disappointing followup to his 18-win All-Star campaign in 2010.
"There's no way to change that at this point," Hughes said. "It's just motivation for next year. Obviously, you never want to go through years like this, but fortunately on a team like this, you have an opportunity to win every year. Hopefully, we can make the most of October."
Yankees brass wants Cashman to return
ST. PETERSBURG -- Regardless of what happens over the next month or so, the Yankees are interested in having general manager Brian Cashman remain with the club beyond this season.
"We want him back," Yankees president Randy Levine said, addressing a report published on Monday. "I said it six months ago, I said it three months ago. It's nothing new."
As they did in 2008, when Cashman inked a three-year contract worth approximately $6 million, the Yankees will wait until after the postseason to begin negotiations on a new deal.
Cashman has stated several times that he is interested in remaining with the Yankees beyond this season, but that he does not want his own situation to distract from the team's goal.
Cashman started his service as the club's GM in February 1998, overseeing four World Series championships, six American League championships and now 11 AL East titles during his tenure.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees took their best swings at a few hits of a different kind late on Monday, dressing their rookies as pop stars of the 1980s in the annual team hazing event.
Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman stole the show as a towering Milli Vanilli tag-team, while Monday's starting pitcher Hector Noesi donned a frilly purple outfit to represent Prince.
Summoning Guns N' Roses, infielder Brandon Laird strummed a guitar under Slash's famous top hat, while catcher Jesus Montero made the coaching staff howl with an attempt at dancing in extra-baggy M.C. Hammer pants.
"I don't like to embarrass the guys, but they don't embarrass," manager Joe Girardi said. "They're all being good about it. They get a nice dinner out of it, I know that."
Everyone seemed to know Hammer's "U Can't Touch This," but when Wham's 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' blasted on the clubhouse speakers, reliever George Kontos wasn't sure what to do. That was unfortunate - he was dressed as George Michael.
Still, catcher Austin Romine may have had his toughest assignment of the year, assigned to dress up in a wig and lace outfit that Madonna might have selected for her 'Like A Virgin' tour.
"That's the ugliest I've ever seen," pitcher Boone Logan cackled.
Setback may keep Cervelli out for October
ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli has suffered another concussion-related setback and is all but certain to sit out the American League Division Series, if not the entire postseason.
Cervelli traveled with the Yankees to Tropicana Field and resumed baseball workouts, trying to return from a Sept. 8 concussion sustained in Baltimore, but he did not come out of the session cleanly.
"He threw and did some catching stuff, and some of the symptoms came back," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Girardi said that head athletic trainer Gene Monahan would speak with the neurologist treating Cervelli to determine a next step of treatment.
"The health is always the biggest issue, more than any postseason," Girardi said. "We've got to get this kid healthy."
Cervelli has had at least three known concussions in his career, including the most recent one on a home-plate collision with the Orioles' Nick Markakis.
Girardi has already stated that he expects both Jesus Montero and Jorge Posada to be on his postseason roster, and that Russell Martin will start every game at catcher if healthy.
The Yankees are no closer to making a decision on their starter for Game 3 of the American League Division Series, manager Joe Girardi said. He added Bartolo Colon's name to the mix of Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett, who are already being considered. CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are locks to make ALDS starts.
New York's starting pitcher for Wednesday's regular-season finale remains listed as TBA. Girardi strongly hinted that he may use younger pitchers who are not headed for the postseason roster in that game, eyeing the single off-day to rest his bullpen before Game 1 of the ALDS on Friday.
Girardi bristled at a suggestion that the Yankees did not do as much as they could to win the second game of Sunday's day-night doubleheader, a 7-4 loss to the Red Sox in 14 innings.
"I'm not going to ask Alex Rodriguez, at 36 years old, after he's been sitting six or seven hours, to go and try to get loose," Girardi said. "He tweaks something and people are going to say, 'What in the heck are you doing?'"