Phil Hughes, Yankee rotation hopeful, showed improved velocity in his spring debut on Wednesday, reports Marc Carig of the Newark-Star Ledger. Insofar as the Yankees' interests are concerned, that's of course a good thing.
Last season, Hughes suffered diminished velocity early on and shortly thereafter spent almost three months on the DL with shoulder inflammation. He showed more oomph on the fastball after his return from injury, and said oomph was still with him on Wednesday in his first Grapefruit League appearance.
Needless to say, Hughes will need to maintain that low- to mid-90s fastball as the season wears on and avoid the shoulder problems that hindered him in 2011. While the Yankees have done much to improve the rotation this offseason -- e.g., trading for Michael Pineda, signing Hiroki Kuroda and making A.J. Burnett go away -- a healthy and vintage Hughes may be necessary if they're going to win baseball's toughest division.