Phil Hughes to build arm strength

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said that Phil Hughes will throw long toss on Tuesday in an effort to increase his arm strength after his velocity problems that persisted all spring showed up in his first start on Sunday.

However, Rothschild said the team won't do anything radical to try to bring life to Hughes' right arm.

"If we force the issue, there will be more problems," Rothschild said.

On Sunday, Hughes' velocity hovered in the 88-91 miles per hour range, which resulted in him being hit all over the ballpark, including two two-run homers by Miguel Cabrera in Detroit's 10-7 win over the Yankees.

Hughes gave up a total of five runs in his four innings and said afterward he will have trouble being successful without increased velocity. Rothschild echoed that point, saying that painting the corners like crafty lefty Jamie Moyer "is not his game really."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi disagreed with Hughes' and Rothschild's assessment that the right-hander would have trouble being successful if his fastball doesn't clock higher on the radar gun.

"We talk until we are blue in the face about velocity," Girardi said. "Jamie Moyer was throwing 82 miles per hour. Velocity is going to become more important when you are not locating because you are going to get away with pitches, but if you locate you can pitch at 90, 89, 90. You can do it. We saw Mike Mussina win 20 games, but he topped out at 88."

Girardi reiterated what he said Sunday, saying that Hughes has no physical problems.

"He has not had soreness or anything to lead you to believe there was something wrong physically," Girardi said.

Hughes, 24, is scheduled to start next Friday in Boston at the Red Sox home opener.

The Yankees are hoping this is just another case of Hughes' velocity taking a brief hiatus before coming back. Last year, before his All-Star first half, Girardi said that Hughes' spring velocity was down. It was in the 88-to-90 range before it picked up to 93-94 during the season.

With the Yankees trying to protect Hughes' innings count last year, Hughes didn't make his first start until April 15th. Girardi is holding out hope that Hughes' arm just needs a bit more time to get right.

Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.