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Rothschild: Hughes will start long-toss Sunday

4/16/2011

Phil Hughes will begin his long-toss program on Sunday. He will throw another long-toss session on Monday and take a rest on Tuesday, according to Yankee pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

Rothschild, along with the rest of the Yankee hierarchy, hopes that the long-toss drills and arm-strengthening exercises will help Hughes develop some of the velocity that’s been missing through his first three starts this season.

The team placed Hughes on the 15-day DL on Friday with a “dead arm.”

Hughes has been struggling with his velocity since spring training.

He's throwing his fastball at an average of 89.3 mph this year, according to FanGraphs.com. His average fastball was 92.6 mph in 2010 and 93.8 in 2009, according to the website.

Rothschild will watch Hughes’ arm speed during the long-toss drills. Hughes will throw the ball on a line rather than up in the air. He will also be throwing off of the mound but not until after a day of rest Tuesday, at the earliest.

“It’s just to try to change things. It’s to see if something connects,” Rothschild said.

Rothschild, like the rest of the Yankees, could not pinpoint the reason for Hughes’ lack of velocity.

He said it was not necessarily a “dead-arm” issue because Hughes hasn’t thrown at his normal velocity since reporting for spring training in mid-February.

“It’s been a long period of time,” Rothschild said of Hughes’ lack of velocity. “It’s more getting the arm strength back to where it should be. And it hasn’t been there all spring.”