Thursday, September 1, 2011

Phil Hughes most disappointed in himself

No one was more disappointed in Phil Hughes last night than himself.

I couldn’t help but cringe watching Hughes be interviewed during the YES Network’s post-game show. Hughes is always his worst critic, but last night was something different. He looked and sounded utterly defeated. He has always been willing to be accountable for his performance and never makes excuses (unlike one of his fellow starters for the New York Yankees), but there was a testiness that I have not seen from Hughes before. I fear that the early-season injury and the constant barrage of questions about a possible banishment to the bullpen have finally taken their toll on the youngster.

That hopelessness may come from his job being on the line every time he takes the ball and then being asked ad nauseam about it after every start when it’s clear that AJ Burnett, who hasn’t pitched a great game in about three months, should be the one headed for the bullpen. Ian O’Connor makes a terrific point in his column that the Yankees should be protecting the pitcher that has the most upside for them (Hughes) rather than the expensive and emotionally fragile Burnett, who at this point is unlikely to finish out that five-year deal as a Yankees starter.

But Hughes had a chance to it make it impossible for Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman to send him to the bullpen. A good outing against the Boston Red Sox on national television was all that he needed to solidify his spot in the rotation, but he couldn’t pull it off. Bad pitch selection, missed location and a flying moth all worked against him last night and he couldn’t overcome any of it. It’s a shame because there were a few innings where we saw the potential that the Yankees have always seen in Hughes. But it may not be enough to keep his job and Hughes knows it, which is why his disappointment was on display for the world to see.

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