Saturday, May 8, 2010

Phil Hughes confidence soaring to new heights

With the New York Yankees' anger over Josh Beckett's lack of control and Andy Pettitte's furor over being skipped a start, it would be easy to overlook Phil Hughes' latest fantastic performance at hostile Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. But I doubt anyone in baseball is making that mistake.

It's not just that Hughes is pitching so brilliantly, conquering what had previously been a difficult lineup and ballpark for him. It's that he's doing it with such confidence, like he knows he's going to win. Even Hughes admitted his confidence is at an all-time high, which YES Network analysts John Flaherty and Jack Curry pointed out is the ultimate positive sign for a young pitcher.

"I'm throwing the ball well," Hughes said. "I'm just trying to keep it going. There's a lot of season ahead of us."

Most importantly, his teammates are starting to feel like they will win every time he takes the mound. Captain Derek Jeter said his success as Mariano Rivera’s set-up man gave Hughes a lot of confidence that he has carried into his starting role.

“He’s been outstanding the entire year,” Jeter said. “He has a lot of confidence in his ability.”

I have to keep reminding myself that Hughes is only 23 years old. Because he's not pitching like a kid, he's pitching like a 10-year veteran. And it's a beautiful thing to see as a Yankees fan, not so much for the rest of baseball.

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