Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Phil Hughes determined to rebound in 2012

Phil Hughes has always been his own worst critic so it was not surprising to hear him describe his 2011 baseball season as a wasted year. But I’m glad to hear that he is doing everything he can to avoid a repeat in 2012.

The New York media has pronounced Hughes to be fit as a fiddle, which is saying a lot as the writers hammered him for being out of shape last spring. Hughes’ reshaped physique is a manifestation of his determination to avoid a repeat of his bad 2011 campaign (again his word, not mine). I thought his bad luck with injuries was the main cause of his struggles, but Hughes is not taking any chances, working his body hard to make sure he is ready to fight for his job when pitchers and catchers report on Sunday.

Hughes must be feeling tremendous pressure, even with the possibility of an AJ Burnett trade that could help clear a path for him to a rotation spot. The New York Yankees sure aren’t putting potential stud Michael Pineda in the bullpen and Ivan Nova performed well in that #2 spot after CC Sabathia. With veterans Hideki Kuroda and Freddy Garcia in the mix, Hughes will have to demonstrate that he can re-claim the stuff and mental toughness that made him an All-Star in 2010. The young right-hander has already proven that he can be successful in the bullpen so any misstep in spring training will send him back there rather quickly.

So Hughes is using his “wasted” 2011 campaign as motivation to bounce back and once again become the star pitcher he has shown us he can be. I’m looking forward to watching the comeback. 

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