Hughes vs. Nova: Let the competition begin

After Phil Hughes' mediocre six innings, Joe Girardi -- as much as Joe Girardi can -- opened up the competition for essentially the fifth starter spot between Ivan Nova and Hughes.

Girardi all but named Nova as one of his starters for Saturdays double-header. After Hughes allowed two runs on nine hits to the lowly Mariners, his spot in the rotation is not assured. Could there be a competition?

"There could be," Girardi said. "I'm not going to say that there will be. We want our guys to compete all the time. That is the bottom line. We want guys who throw the ball well and earn their spots every time. As far as saying, there is a competition for Phil Hughes' next start, I'm not saying that."

He eventually added, "Let's see how Nova does."

Before Girardi said, "Let's just see how Nova does," the manager performed his usual, "Who's on First?" routine when he wouldn't reveal a mundane fact.

After Girardi named three of the four starters for the weekend, Girardi was pressed for the name of the last one.

"I'm not going to name something before it actually happens," Girardi said.

When ESPN New York's Wally Matthews quickly pointed out that he named the rest of the rotation for this weekend (A.J. Burnett Friday, Bartolo Colon for one of the games Saturday and Freddy Garcia Sunday) and that if Nova isn't hurt he should be able to pitch, Girardi sort of revealed his hand.

"You can surmise," Girardi said.

So we will surmise if Nova pitches well, Hughes may not make his next start. Wally is writing a column going further into this so check the site later.