TAMPA, Fla. -- Eventful day: Phil Hughes out for two weeks with a back injury, two near disasters in batting practice, and Joe Girardi demonstrates how to do a muscle-up for a suitably impressed beat crew. Here are the highlights:
JOE PHILS GOOD ABOUT HUGHES: Girardi, who had his share of back problems as a player -- he rattled off three different disk injuries in all three regions of the spine -- said he was encouraged that Hughes felt better Wednesday than he did on Monday, but still conceded that he could not say for sure that his No. 4 starter would be ready for the opening week of the regular season.
NO ONE CATCHING ON YET: Joe said it was too early to designate anyone the front-runner in the what is expected to be a three-man competition for the starting catcher's job among Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine. Girardi also said that once the games start, offensive production will have very little to do with his decision. He's looking for a defensive catcher, period.
DANGEROUS CAGES: Girardi was a witness to the near-beheading of Eduardo Nuñez by Joba Chamberlain in live BP on the main field, but missed an even scarier incident on the back field, where Curtis Granderson lined one off the left (non-pitching) arm of prospect Kelvin Perez. Perez finished his turn, but left the complex with his arm heavily wrapped in a compression bandage.
AND THE GOLD IN MEN'S GYNASTICS GOES TO: Joe Girardi, age 48, who performed a muscle-up on the rings for team strength coach Dana Cavalea, who wanted to learn the technique, and the nosy beat crew, which stood by to watch. I got it on videotape but, out of modesty, Girardi requested I not post it. So you'll just have to take my word for it that it was quite impressive to see.