Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy birthday, Phil. Enjoy your day off!

For his 24th birthday, Phil Hughes got a nice present from his manager Joe Girardi: a day off.

Actually, it's more like 10 days off, with the Hughes Rules taking effect. But the New York Yankees will start a determined quest to protect their ultra-talented young pitcher by skipping him in the rotation.

It had to be a tough call for Girardi and the Yankees, skipping the youngster who is having a phenomenal year at a time when the American League East race is still extremely tight despite the Yanks winning two games while the rest of their competition all lost. But Girardi is a long-term thinker and it's absolutely the right call. The worst that could happen is that Hughes could get fatigued or suffer an injury because he threw too many innings in June and July.

The only thing I worry about is the potential impact on the righty's psyche, especially after seeing what the Joba Rules did to Joba Chamberlain last year. But Hughes seems to be a more grounded, less emotional guy than Joba. And I think the Yankees have done a better job of preparing Hughes for what's coming. I will be eagerly awaiting his start against the Seattle Mariners this week, but I don't foresee a problem.

So it's a nice birthday present for Hughes, who also gets to be close to home this weekend with the Yankees playing Joe Torre's Dodgers in Los Angeles. Hope he enjoys his day off.

Happy birthday, Phil!

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