BRADENTON, Fla. – Phil Hughes plans to throw more changeups this spring so he can throw more during the season.
The Yankees' right-hander also has to work on his fastball, cutter, and curveball, too.
He threw three changeups Tuesday in two innings of New York's 2-0 loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but facing only six batters, he couldn't throw too many of any one kind.
"There's probably a five-way tie for first," Hughes said, grinning. "Fastball command is always up there. I wasn't happy with my curveball in the second half last year. My cutter wasn't as good in the second half. I can't focus only on my changeup."
Hughes walked leadoff hitter Alex Presley, then got John Bowker to ground into a double play. He breezed through the second with three flyball outs.
Hughes, who went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA last season, said he stubbornly ignored the changeup early in the year.
"I didn't really go to it until the very end of the year when I knew I needed to make a change because what I was doing wasn't working," Hughes said. "That's when I finally changed my mentality and started throwing more. This year, I want to make sure it's there from day one."
Manager Joe Girardi does, too. He'll be looking for more changes from Hughes.
"That's something that we talked about," Girardi said. "We do want to see more of his changeup. I think it's important for him to take the next step because there are going to be days where you don't have that curveball right away. You don't have your cutter right away. You want something to give the hitters a different look. The more pitches you have, the more different looks you can give them as you go through the lineup the second, third, and, hopefully, fourth time."
Pirates starter James McDonald also tossed two scoreless innings. The right-hander gave up two hits.
"Today was a success," McDonald said. "The goal was to get ahead, throw strikes and really be efficient. Try to get early outs, early swings. Just get the ball over the plate."
McDonald split time as a starter and reliever last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After he was traded to the Pirates on July 31, he became a full-time starter.
This is the first time McDonald has gone into spring training knowing he's locked up a rotation spot.
"It doesn't make it easier because you still have to go out there and help your team win," McDonald said. "It makes me feel better. I feel a little more comfortable doing what I need to do. But I don't take it for granted that I'm on the team and just sit back and relax."
Notes: New York C Russell Martin (knee) remains on target to play behind the plate for the first time by Friday. ... Pirates reliever Joe Beimel was shut down after feeling tightness in his left forearm Tuesday during a bullpen session. Beimel, who was slated to the be primary left-handed setup pitcher, had an MRI exam Tuesday night and is out indefinitely. ... Yankees RHP Andrew Brackman (groin) will have a bullpen session on Thursday. ... New York INF Ronnie Belliard (calf) is expected to be out another 7 to 10 days. ... Pirates reliever Evan Meek (strained calf) was pain-free after throwing a bullpen Tuesday and expects to be game ready within the next few days. ... The Pirates signed right-hander Cesar Lopez, a 20-year-old Cuban free agent.