The pop on Phil Hughes' fastball, the 21-year-old insists, is fine.
While some eagle-eyed fans watch every digit that flashes on the screen during the right-hander's starts, raising questions about velocity, neither Hughes nor pitching coach Dave Eiland are particularly concerned with the speed. Just like the real estate market, it's all about location.
"It's really not the issue right now," Hughes said. "It's more about my command than anything. It all comes back to command, command, command. Your curveball could be the best in the world, but if you don't throw a fastball for a strike, they're not going to hit it -- they'll lay off it. It all stems from command of the fastball."
Hughes gets to try again on Thursday, making his fifth start of the season against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. A Chicago newbie, he'll hope for better luck after faring 0-3 in the three other parks he's debuted at this season -- Kauffman Stadium, Fenway Park and Camden Yards.
His last time out, Hughes allowed five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings to the Orioles. It was a start that went south from the fifth inning on, as Hughes opened the sixth locked into a 1-1 tie with the Birds.
"If I get through that sixth inning and my pitch count is low, it's a completely different ballgame," Hughes said. "That's the thing I've got to try to stay away from, being so fine. I did a better job of getting ahead in the count. Once I work ahead in the count, I don't throw too many pitches."