Friday, February 22, 2013

Disappointing early setback for Hughes

This is the year Phil Hughes was planning to take control of his own destiny, perhaps even finally becoming the #1 starter the New York Yankees once projected him to be. So I can only imagine how disappointed he must be that he has to sit out the next two weeks with a back injury.

His 2013 campaign got off to a very rocky start when he was diagnosed with a bulging disc, an injury he sustained during a routine training drill. Hughes has a history of injury problems and his manager Joe Girardi admitted that this latest injury is something to worry about. The righty is being counted on to provide youth and stability to a baseball rotation whose top three starters are either older or coming off surgery so the early setback for Hughes is not a good sign.

The timing for Hughes also couldn’t be any worse in the sense that he is one season away from free agency. He is one of the few Yankees that can be counted on for an honest answer so I wasn’t surprised to see him admit that he was watching the free agent market this past offseason and admiring the contracts other pitchers were getting. I’m sure he is looking forward toward a similar payout after the 2013 season (although his $7 million+ salary for this year is nothing to sniff at). Hughes has a solid resume and youth on his side, but his injury history would likely be a major question mark for teams considering long-term bids for his services.

Perhaps Hughes will sit out the next two weeks and fully recover in time to slot into the Yankees rotation as planned. He is definitely helped by the fact that the injury occurred very early in spring training and that he came into camp in pretty good shape. But I can’t help but wonder if Hughes is destined to suffer these strange injuries throughout his career. I hope that’s not the case because he has shown us flashes of brilliance. Hopefully, this is just a disappointing setback for him, one to be quickly overcome.   

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