NEW YORK – Phil Hughes will have to wait an extra day to see if he can find his fastball.
Off to a horrendous start this season, Hughes had his next outing pushed back from Wednesday to Thursday when the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles were rained out Tuesday night. No makeup date was announced.
A.J. Burnett, who had been slated to pitch the series opener Tuesday, was moved back to Wednesday night. The Orioles did the same with their scheduled starter, Chris Tillman.
Hughes, who won 18 games last season and made his first All-Star team, has been an enigma early this year. His velocity is down and the 24-year-old right-hander is 0-1 with a 16.50 ERA after two starts. He lasted only two innings Friday against the rival Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"It's no fun to sit on a bad outing for four days, so I'm excited to get out there, get things going again and hopefully work on some things to get back where I need to be," Hughes said. "I can't afford to go out and throw two innings or four innings every start with the stuff I have. I have to turn it around."
In other news, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said reliever Luis Ayala will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his back. The team is expected to call up a replacement in time for Wednesday's game.
Also, injured left-hander Pedro Feliciano still felt discomfort when he played catch Tuesday. He will have another MRI exam Wednesday.
"It's not pain. It's just like a pinch when I throw," Feliciano said. "It wasn't that bad, but it wasn't me. I don't feel it is my arm. My arm is loose and it was weak."
Feliciano was shut down late in spring training and is on the disabled list with a strained left rotator cuff. The Yankees had hoped to have him back after just a few weeks, but now that doesn't seem so certain.
"It's a concern," Girardi said.
Early this season, New York general manager Brian Cashman said Feliciano was "abused" by the New York Mets the past few years.
Feliciano has made 344 relief appearances since 2007, a big league record for a four-year stretch. He led the majors in games each of the last three seasons, including a career-high 92 outings in 2010.
Still, the Yankees signed him to an $8 million, two-year contract in January that includes a club option for 2013.
"The doctor said they want to do another test to see what is in there. He feels it. There is something in there," Feliciano said.
As for Hughes, he has been trying to iron out his problems in the bullpen with new pitching coach Larry Rothschild, working to get his lower body more involved in his delivery.
Hughes and the Yankees don't think there's anything physically or mechanically wrong, they just think he lacks his usual arm strength right now.
"I feel good, but it's impossible to tell on the in-between days," Hughes said. "If it's not there, I still have to find a way to pitch, get outs and keep us in the game. I can't go out there and, if I'm not throwing 94 or 95 (mph), just chalk this one up as another bad one. I have to find a way to battle and get through it, hopefully pitch as well as I can. I'm not going to immediately have negative thoughts in my head if I'm not throwing as hard as I would have liked to. At the same time, hopefully it's there. I guess we'll see."
Along with ace CC Sabathia, Hughes was supposed to be one of the starters the Yankees knew they could count on. His success — or failure — could be pivotal to their suspect rotation. And even Hughes acknowledged that he's a little concerned about his arm.
"Yeah, it's obviously something to be worried about. This is my job, my livelihood. When I don't have the stuff I know I'm capable of going out there with, it's worrisome and frustrating. I'm still confident that it will be there, but I wouldn't be out there trying to get it right if I wasn't worried about it," he said.
Girardi said he's not too concerned yet, but he acknowledged that the Yankees need to get Hughes "back on track."
"He has showed that he's capable of rebounding. And I think if you're Phil, you know, it's two starts. Don't let these two starts carry over into my other 30 or so starts that I'm going to have. That's the important thing," Girardi said. "I think this kid is talented and it's only two starts, so I believe it's going to change."
NOTES: RHP Jake Arrieta will start Thursday night for Baltimore as planned. ... Orioles SS J.J. Hardy is expected to go on the disabled list with a strained muscle on his left side and RHP Brad Bergesen is likely to be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. Bergesen would probably be penciled in to start Sunday at Cleveland. ... Alex Rodriguez was set to play for New York after he was scratched from Sunday night's lineup in Boston because of flulike symptoms. ... It was the second rainout at Yankee Stadium in a week. Minnesota and New York were washed out last Wednesday night.