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Thursday, February 21, 2013
First Pitch: Kyle lotion for Yanks rotation?

By Wallace Matthews

TAMPA, Fla. -- Suddenly, the Yankees have questions about Phil Hughes' readiness for Opening Day.

Coincidentally, Kyle Lohse is still looking for work.

Lohse's agent, of course, is Scott Boras, who has had reason to speak with Hal Steinbrenner on numerous occasions over the past three weeks.

Is it that far-fetched that while the two were discussing the future of Robinson Cano, Lohse's name just might have popped up in the conversation?

Well, if it hasn't yet, it surely will now, now that Hughes is being set down for at least two weeks with a bulging disk in his back.

Lohse had an excellent year for St. Louis in 2012: 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA. But since the Yankees came to camp with six viable starters for five spots, they never seriously considered him.

Now, they might, and if you know Boras, you can bet he will be pushing him hard.

My guess is the Yankees will wait a while to see how Hughes responds to the course of treatment chosen by their medical staff, a course of oral anti-inflammatories rather than the more invasive cortisone shot or, at worst case, surgery. By then, Lohse may no longer be available -- the Washington Nationals might be a fit for him -- and like a lot of other teams this winter, the Yankees might balk at offering a 34-year-old pitcher more than a one-year contract.

But if the market for Lohse turns out to be less than Boras figured it would be, the Yankees might want to take a chance on him.

QUESTION: Do you think the Yankees should pursue Lohse? Or wait it out with Hughes and go with David Phelps and Ivan Nova if Hughes can't make it?

UP NOW: My news story on the ongoing discussion between the Yankees and Boras about extending Cano's contract and my column on why this could be great news for Yankees fans. Plus, various blog items from yesterday's day at camp.

COMING SOON: The clubhouse opens at a remarkably civil hour -- 9:40 a.m. -- and I will be there to bring you the news of the day plus any tidbits I find entertaining. Hopefully you will, too. Look for the Morning Notes around 11, and the State of the Binder, Day 10, around 2 p.m. And as always, thanks for reading.