Wang has work to doHughes wild, Phillips takes leave
But his stuff isn't there yet, according to Wang. After whisking through his allotment of Minnesota Twins on Thursday, Wang said his bowling ball-like sinker is still catching a bit too much of the zone, a point he'll need to rectify.
"He spoils you so much with how efficient he is," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "If he misses by a little bit, he feels that he's not right."
Wang, 27, spread the wealth in the Yankees' Spring Training opener, inducing grounders to Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano in the first inning.
He had two more bounceouts in the second inning before Jason Kubel lofted a harmless fly ball to left field, ending Wang's 19-pitch, 10-strike effort. He might not have been completely satisfied, but his Yankees teammates will take those results any day of the week.
"If he pitched a complete game, it'd probably be a couple of strikeouts, 22 ground balls and a couple of popups," Alex Rodriguez said. "It's awesome. It keeps everybody involved.
"You know that when you're driving to the game that day, you're probably going to get six, seven, eight ground balls. That's exciting."
Still, Wang felt his pitches were "too high" and his arm slot was "too wide." Catcher Jorge Posada agreed, saying that the results were good for the first time out, but provided Wang with a base upon which to improve.
"He looked good, but from my standpoint, he wasn't down in the zone like usual," Posada said. "He got the ground balls and that's all you can ask for. He should be a little lower. It's normal [for] the first time out there."
A walk on the wild side: Top pitching prospect Phil Hughes admitted his first Spring Training appearance at Legends Field "wasn't great," but said there were positives to take from the experience.
First, Hughes who hasn't struggled with much adversity through his brief, successful professional career has an item to kick around as motivation for next time.
Hughes walked two Twins in 1 1/3 innings and also threw a wild pitch, keeping Posada busy blocking overthrown pitches behind the plate.
"That's not something that I like to do or want to do," the 20-year-old Hughes said. "I think it's kind of good that I have something in my mind that I can work on, instead of getting six outs [easily]."
Hughes admitted to being "a little bit anxious" in his first appearance this year, taking over pitching duties in the third inning after Wang retired all six Minnesota batters he faced.
"That can be expected," Hughes said. "It was good to get back out there and actually see some guys."
Before yielding to reliever T.J. Beam with one out in the fourth, Hughes was satisfied to at least leave on a high note, striking out last year's American League MVP, Justin Morneau.
"He struck out a pretty good hitter to say goodbye," Torre said.
Phillips leaves club: First baseman Andy Phillips has been granted a leave of absence from the club. The Yankees said that Phillips' mother was involved in a "serious car accident" on Wednesday in Alabama, and that Phillips has been granted as much time as he needs to attend to the situation.
He has been in communication with the club, calling left-hander Andy Pettitte early on Thursday to update his status.
"We all hope and pray everything will be OK," Torre said.
No second thoughts: Hideki Matsui's consecutive games streak ended last May after he attempted a diving catch in left field at Yankee Stadium, breaking his left wrist.
With that memory in mind, the Yankees could be excused if they'd gasped a little bit when Matsui ran full speed toward the left-field corner in the third inning on Thursday, hunting down a Nick Punto fly ball.
Bearing in on a railing, Matsui snagged the drive. He later joked, "The wrist is not broken," and said he had never given his aggressive pursuit a second thought.
"I've never really thought about the injury," Matsui said. "Today, too, it never really passed my mind."
No problems: Wearing a tight wrap on his left foot, Carl Pavano threw a bullpen session on Thursday and reported that he was "pleasantly surprised" by his touch and feel.
The right-hander who sustained a bruise last week when he was hit by an Alberto Gonzalez line drive in batting practice is now cleared to make a scheduled start on Sunday in Clearwater against the Phillies.
"I'm excited for it," Pavano said. "Can't wait."
This and that: Pitching coach Ron Guidry has still not decided if closer Mariano Rivera will make his spring debut on Monday or Wednesday. Rivera is, as usual, not traveling to Yankees road games. ... Pitching prospect Ross Ohlendorf showed "real good sink" in a scoreless two-inning relief stint, Torre said. ... Luis Vizcaino, Mike Myers and Jose Veras each fired scoreless innings for New York.
Quotable: "Just to look good with the shirt off. [So] the wife still digs me. Stuff like that. You've got to keep your sexiness at all times." Johnny Damon, on why he constructed a gymnasium at his Orlando, Fla., home
Coming up: The Yankees head to St. Petersburg on Friday to play their first road game of the spring, a 1:05 p.m. ET affair with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Pettitte will be on the mound for New York, making his first Grapefruit League appearance for the Yankees since 2003.