First Pitch: Scout says Hughes has to start

The scout who first alerted me last spring that Phil Hughes and his velocity were a concern has a much different report this spring.

"I feel like he is throwing almost better than he ever has," the scout said.

Hughes starts in Port Charlotte against the Rays on Wednesday afternoon on ESPN. So far, Hughes has given up just one-run in 8 1/3 innings, which means a little more because Hughes knows he is fighting to win a job.

"Unless, he has a setback, he has to be a starter," the scout said.

Hughes, who arrived overweight a year ago, entered Tampa in shape and ready to go. Today, he will try to build on what he has accomplished thus far.

The Yankees agree. They look at Hughes as a starter. They think he can be the 2010 first half Hughes. He came into camp in much better shape and, according to the scout, has been throwing 92-93 and sometimes 94 with a nice sink.

"That good curveball seems to have comeback," the scout said.

UP NOW: Kieran Darcy on Andy Pettitte.

ON DECK: Darcy will be on the scene in Port Charlotte. You can follow him on Twitter here. We will both be on the blog all day. Thanks for reading.

IN THE HOLE: Some more numbers about Pineda's velocity and what it means. That will be posted at 10:15 a.m. At noon, I will be chatting Yankees on ESPNNY.com. See you there.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How well do you think Hughes can do this year?