Thursday, April 28, 2011

Phil Hughes may be in for fight of his life

Forget about baseball for now. Phil Hughes may be in for the fight of his life.

Even though I'm a die-hard New York Yankees fan, I'm not worried about the Yankees or baseball. My concern is for the kid's health. That is the most important issue right now.

I had never even heard of thoracic outlet syndrome before last night and had to enlist Lord Google in a search for more information. It seems to be a rare and painful disorder that can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications such as blood clots, which is what I was afraid Hughes was suffering. I’ve been through the frightening experience of having a blood clot and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, especially a good guy like Hughes.

If the suspected diagnosis of TOS is confirmed, perhaps it can be treated with noninvasive techniques such as stretching, posture conditioning and ice/heat rather than with invasive procedures such as surgery that requires removal of a rib, which seems to be the riskiest option and one that I hope the doctors can avoid.

Of course, the TOS scare could turn out to be a false alarm. That’s certainly what Joe Girardi is praying for. “My hope is that that’s not what we’re dealing with,” Girardi said. “That’s my hope for him.”

The Yankees manager is openly fond of Hughes and is scared and seriously worried about the youngster. At least outwardly, Girardi may be more concerned than his pitcher. I would have been terrified at the potential diagnosis, but Hughes seems to be taking it in stride. Truthfully, he has handled this whole situation pretty gracefully, even when fielding multiple, annoying questions from reporters about what’s wrong with his arm and why he lost his fastball.

“He’s one of those guys where his mood doesn’t change day to day,” Girardi said. “To me, his mood seems par for the course.”

But privately, Hughes must be wondering if he will be all right or if he will ever pitch again. I’m an optimist so I’ll choose to believe that everything will turn out OK for him.

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