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Friday, September 30, 2011
Joe on Hughes' role, Cano's spot in order


Joe Girardi said right-hander Phil Hughes can be used in either short relief or as a long man in the ALDS.

But in all likelihood, Hughes will be used as the Yankees' long-guy.

If he did come in for a short stint, it would likely be in the sixth inning or earlier. Barring injury or a stark turn for the worse, the Yankees seventh, eighth and ninth-inning roles are set in stone (Rafael Soriano-David Robertson-Mariano Rivera)

Hughes has experience in the short-relief role -- he pitched their exclusively in the 2009 playoffs. He's also stretched out enough to handle a long-relief stint.

Either way, the 25-year-old is looking at the postseason as a chance to rewrite the ending of what has, in his own words, been a "disaster" of a year.

He was placed on the disabled list in May with a mysterious right shoulder inflammation that sapped his fastball velocity. After a three-month DL stint, Hughes returned in July and went 5-4 with a 4.67 ERA in 11 starts before being sidelined again with back spams.

He was asked about the possibility of pitching out of the bullen in the playoffs earlier this month, before the official decision was announced.

"I pitched in the bullpen in '09 and I came in relief in '07. Just being a part of this is pretty special so whether I'm starting or relieving, I just want to be here so that's the way I look at it," Hughes said.

CANO IN THREE HOLE: Girardi reiterated that he wanted to move Robinson Cano into the third spot in the lineup "because of the year he had."

Cano finished the regular season hitting .302 with 28 homers and 118 RBI.

He will hit third on Friday, in front of Alex Rodriguez. Mark Teixeira will be batting in the No. 5 hole.

Girardi acknowledged the concern expressed by some over hitting Granderson and Cano -- two lefties -- back-to-back. But he said he wasn't worried about it.

"Granderson hit more home runs off left-handed pitching than anyone," the manager said. "Robbie's numbers are the same left-handed or right-handed."

Cano will also have greater protection in the No. 3 hole. Teams were consistently pitching around Cano to get to Nick Swisher when the second baseman was hitting fifth.