*Chase Wright has got "a pretty good chance," according to minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, to get the ball for the Thunder on opening night a week from Thursday. He was the Florida State League's pitcher of the year last season. I'm looking forward to seeing him pitch at this level.
*Talked to Phil Hughes today after he had a rough (by his standards, anyway) outing in the Triple-A game. Again, he understands that he still has work to do and that his time will come. The Yankees plan to cap him at around 180 innings this season, or roughly 30 more than he pitched last year. That cap, and the pitch counts that the Yankees enacted in the second half of last season to keep him under that limit, became a story in and of themselves last summer. Former manager Bill Masse's questioning of the idea of such limits led to his dismissal from the Yankees last October.
*Jeff Marquez got rocked in the Double-A game today: eight runs on nine hits (including two home runs and two other extra base hits) in only three innings. He should join Wright at the top of the rotation. The Yankees won't publicly commit to anyone but those two and reliever Kevin Whelan yet for Trenton's pitching staff, but regardless of the specific names, that staff will include at least four or five players who have never pitched above High-A ball. Getting them to make that transition will be one of the big challenges facing new pitching coach Scott Aldred.
*Speaking of Kevin Whelan, the Yankees plan to use him in much the same way they used T.J. Beam and J.B. Cox last year: less frequent, longer outings that better allow him to develop and deepen his arsenal, rather than just coming in for the ninth inning. That seems to be the Yankees' philosophy now for developing top relief pitching prospects; they did the same thing two seasons ago with Eduardo Sierra before they sent him (along with Ramon Ramirez) to the Rockies for Shawn Chacon.
*As I posted on here last night, Randy Ruiz was not re-signed by the Yankees, and ended up in the Pirates' camp. According to Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror, Ruiz was indeed assigned to the Altoona Curve today, meaning he'll be playing for his third Eastern League team in as many years.
*Another Thunder alum, Mitch Jones, has caught on with the Dodgers. He'll likely be assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas.