Yankees Rumors & News
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On his blog this week Phil Hughes announced that he has been pain free for nearly a week and will begin his rehab assignment soon.

The following day Joe Girardi responded to that comment when he announced that Hughes would undergo a bone scan this week. Assuming the exam goes well Girardi set an approximate timeline for the 21-year-old’s return to the Bronx.

Hughes Pitches In Relief

“You’re talking about six weeks, at least, (once he’s cleared),” Joe Girardi said. “Maybe quicker. But he’s been off awhile.”

That time frame puts him at the end of July or more likely the beginning of August for his return. But with Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, and Joba Chamberlain entrenched in the rotation and Darrell Rasner and Ian Kennedy battling for the final spot Hughes won’t exactly have a rotation spot waiting.

Hopefully this will force the Yankees to at least consider moving Hughes to the bullpen for the remainder of the season. There are other reasons to consider keeping him in the pen past this season as well.

The first reason to move him immediately is that there is simply no room for him in the rotation. Before his last start, Rasner has been pitching very well registering quality starts in five of his previous six starts. Even after getting shelled by Oakland yesterday he has decent numbers with a 3.64 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. Even if he does remind too many Yankee fans of Aaron Small or Shawn Chacon the Bombers should try to ride his wave as long as they can.

Besides they have Kennedy to fall back on. Kennedy has been on the DL since May 28, but has already begun to rehab after straining his right lat muscle and should return soon. There is no guarantee he will return to the majors once he is ready, but since his initial demotion to the minors Kennedy has pitched better and the Yankees may try to take advantage of that.

Whether or not there is room for Hughes in the rotation could be irrelevant. Throughout his short major league career we have seen a decent fastball and a strong curve, but little else. It has been his failure to use his changeup effectively and his lack of any other quality pitches has driven up pitch counts and kept him from going deep into games. Keeping him in the bullpen, where he would primarily throw two pitches anyways, could be what changes his career.

The last and perhaps most important reason to keep out of the rotation could be his injury history. Since he was drafted 23rd overall in 2004 he has pitched just one season injury free. Not all of them are major injuries to be worried about, but when you add them up he seems to be quite injury prone.

In July 2004, Hughes is shutdown the day after his first professional start because of elbow stiffness. Then in August he breaks his toe while running in his hotel room. He pitches just five innings that year. In June of 2005 he is placed on the DL with shoulder tendonitis. In 2007 he pops his hamstring just two starts into his major league career. Then he suffers an ankle sprain while rehabbing from that injury.

This year of course everyone remembers his mysterious broken rib, which was probably self-inflicted when he threw himself down the stairs in frustration of a terrible season.

With such a long track record in such a small period of time it is certainly debatable that this kid could be the next Carl Pavano. Not a good sign. Once he returns he should be given an opportunity to show what he can do as a setup man before hopefully taking over Joba’s former role as the eight inning guy.

By pitching out of the bullpen Hughes will be putting less innings on his arm each year while still getting the chance to workout his stuff at the major league level if starting is in his long-term plans. With his fastball/curveball combo and his injury history putting him in the bullpen could be what’s best for his career. Who knows? Maybe he could be one hell of a closer one day.

There are currently 2 responses to “Should Hughes Move To Pen?”

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  1. 1 On June 15th, 2008, Bobo said:

    pretty ironic since he was supposed to be what lincecum is to the giants as a STARTER…talk about overhyped. resisting to trade him and kennedy for that other guy seems a bit silly now…

  2. 2 On June 16th, 2008, josh said:

    its not like “that other guy” has lived up to the hype either. he hasnt pitched any better than wang or moose, and people said we needed an ace

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