Hughes suffers ‘setback’ during bullpen session


(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Updated (5:15 p.m.): Phil Hughes, trying to work his way back from a dead arm, suffered what manager Joe Girardi termed a “setback” during an afternoon bullpen session. According to the Yanks’ manager, the bullpen, cut short after around 10-12 pitches, was “not good.”

Girardi, reported Mark Feinsand, said that Hughes’ arm “didn’t bounce back like we thought it would.” Hughes had been slated to make a rehab start later this week, but those plans are clearly on hold right now as the Yanks send the young right-hander off to the doctors for more tests. “I don’t feel so good about it now,” Girardi said. I’m concerned.” The silver lining to this unwelcome development is that Hughes felt no pain; he just seemingly had nothing in the tank again.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild echoed Girardi’s concerns later in the afternoon. Calling it “kind of a new territory for everyone,” the pitching coach said he had not seen such a “prolonged” case of a dead arm, Eric Boland reported via Twitter.

Hughes himself spoke about his arm problems as well. “I didn’t bounce back off that long bullpen session like I would have liked. So that’s where we’re at: a lot of deadness,” he said

This recent development does make one wonder, as Bob Klapisch did, “why the Yankees declined an MRI two weeks ago when it was obvious something was wrong” with Hughes. Perhaps they sent their number three starter for imaging scans then, but they’ve been awfully quiet about it if they did. Hopefully, nothing too serious is wrong with Hughes, but something clearly isn’t right with his pitching arm.

Additional reporting by Benjamin Kabak.

Categories : Injuries


  1. theyankeewarrior says:


  2. Dick Whitman says:

    Color me SHOCKED.

  3. Rick in Boston says:

    Uh-oh. Hopefully this doesn’t mean he felt a twinge in his shoulder or elbow.

  4. Tony S says:

    Uh Oh… This sounds bad.

  5. CountryClub says:

    The way Hughes talks about nothing being there sounds a lot like the way Alan Horne used to talk a couple of years ago. he didnt have any pain either. And for a long time the Dr’s couldnt find anything. That didnt turn out all that well.

  6. bakekrukow412 says:

    I sense reconstructive shoulder surgery. So long Hughsie. Say high to Mark Prior for me.

    • bakekrukow412 says:

      Also, we should have just packaged him, Montero and Joba for Halladay a few years ago and not looked back.

      • Not so sure about that. We still have yet to see Halladay’s decline, Joba and Phil’s post-25 careers when they enter their prime, or Montero’s anything.

        3-4 years from now, you may be very happy that Hughes, Joba, and Montero are all Yankees.

        • JobaWockeeZ says:

          This again. All three have insane potential and they’re all younger than 30. Who knows whether they should have traded for Halladay but it’s way too early to even think about ‘not looking back.’

          • I mean, I’m as saddened/frustrated as the next guy about both Phil and Joba’s second-half struggles in their first seasons as fulltime rotation mainstays, their recurring injury woes, and their (permanent or temporary) relegations to the bullpen but perspective tells us that plenty of young pitchers have experienced all the setbacks that these two have before the age of 25 and gone on to be dominant, upper-echelon starters after the age of 25.

            Let’s have a little more patience before declaring their days as good Yankee starters totally over. Both of them.

            • theyankeewarrior says:

              Point taken, but shouldn’t we be judging trade value based on what they do before they his free agency?

              Trading Joba, Hughes and Montero only surrenders their pre-arb and arb years. Anything after that is fair game.

              Hughes and Joba only have two more years of those. I see neither of those seasons turning out to be anything special.

              Montero is a different story. We would be giving up 6 years of a potential rock in the middle of the lineup.

              But for 5-6 seasons of Doc, I would most certainly have given these three up “a few years ago” in hindsight.

              The 2009, 2010, and 2011 Yankees alone would have easily been the best team in MLB with Doc, CC and [insert 2-3 starters here].

              • At the rate that talented young players (both pitchers and position players) now get locked up before hitting FA for the first time, I’m not sure the philosophy of only considering a player’s prearb/arb years applies anymore.

                It implies that after a player’s 6th year in the league, he’s free to anyone, but good young players usually don’t become free until their 8th/9th/10th/11th year. The CC Sabathias and Matt Hollidays are rare now.

            • The Big City of Dreams says:

              Well we all know Joba’s starting career is over but yes there is still hope for Hughes. Hopefully they can figure out what’s wrong with him.

          • bakekrukow412 says:

            But I’m sick and tired of always waiting for this potential, when the truth is the only good minor leaguer we’ve developed in the 21st Century is Cano. Wang? Done. Joba? BUST. Gardner? Bad. Hughes? Every year we wait wait wait, but nothing. Give me Felix. Now.

        • Evan in NYC says:

          Unless we can package Montero, Banuelos and Nova for King Felix!

        • Steve H says:

          I agree with you for the most part, but Joba’s prime does nothing for me if it’s in the bullpen. And if Hughes is seriously injured, by way of the Joba Doctrine they will also have to put him in the pen, right?

          • I’m still not sure Joba stays in the pen forever. Let’s see what happens in 2012.

            • Mike Axisa says:

              If they didn’t put him back in the rotation this spring, they never will.

              • They didn’t put him in the rotation this spring because he didn’t seem to have his full velocity and nasty breaking stuff back while pitching out of the bullpen in 2010. In other words, his most recent snapshot was unconvincing.

                He’s looked a lot better in 2011; maybe a great year in relief (and another year injury-free) convinces the braintrust to give him another shot.

                Also: They probably didn’t put him in the rotation this year because they had Phil Hughes. Maybe they don’t have Phil Hughes anymore. There’s that, too.

                • Ed says:

                  I want to believe it, but I have to agree with Mike.

                  Yeah, 2010 Joba wasn’t great. But even based off Joba’s last few years, I’d rather have him in the rotation than any of the options we had for the #4/#5 spots. Not even a close call. Even more so with Soriano added to the bullpen. Yet the team didn’t consider it.

                  Honestly, I don’t see the team reconsidering Joba in the rotation unless he pulls off a season like Mo’s ’96.

                  And even then, I think what’s happening to Hughes this year would make them hesitate. I’m sure they’re second guessing the large jump in innings last year.

                  • The Big City of Dreams says:

                    They could have sent Joba to the minors in 2010. That would have left the door open but no they felt it was best to have him relieve. SMH. Now his life is that of a reliever.

                    *Staff Sergeant Dignam’s voice*

                    Whoopty F*****n doo

              • Gonzo says:

                Maybe they were waiting for him to be 26 to avoid more injury risks?

                /Self Delusional

            • Steve H says:

              Don’t you do that to me Tommie.

            • The Big City of Dreams says:

              Joba’s starting is over at least for the Yankees. If he starts again it will be for another club. Hopefully he gets a shot somewhere else.

      • Gonzo says:

        I think they would have taken Hughes and Joba. I don’t remember those negotiations well though.

      • Mister Delaware says:


        • Tom Zig says:



          • Poopy Pants says:

            Then again, the Mets kept pitching Johan after he was injured, which made things worse.
            You can’t assume it would be the same situation if he was on the Yanks.

            • Mike Axisa says:

              Right, the career paths of everyone changes if the trade happens. Maybe Johan never gets hurt, maybe he gets hurt sooner. Sucks that nobody can figure out what the hell is wrong with Hughes, but I’m very happy with the non0trade.

      • Mike R. says:

        And we could have traded Bernie Williams for David Wells too.

        Hindsight’s 20/20 and don’t act like there haven’t been deals where we give up future great baseball players for veteran crap (not Halladay, but many other examples)

  7. Gonzo says:

    This is why young pitchers need to speak up sooner rather than when necessary.

  8. tim says:

    By the way he kind of short arms the ball it might be a structural issue. TJ in the future? Phill Hughes we hardly knew ye……..

  9. Yank the Frank says:

    I actually thought, “Good thing we got Milolwood”. How ridiculous is that.

  10. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Well this fucking sucks.

  11. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Wait they’re concerned with that something that’s been going on since Spring Training? If he felt no pain, and is still throwing junk why start the concern now?

    • Mister Delaware says:

      Right, why not immediately shelve every guy who has an early season dip in velo or a deadarm feeling.

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        Right because I definitely said that.

        • Mister Delaware says:

          If you’re doing more than second guessing because things look worse today, I’m willing to hear you out.

          • JobaWockeeZ says:

            How the hell am I second guessing? If everything is the same form a week ago or whenever Hughes was taken of the rotation why is there concern for him? Especially with no pain? Something else has to be going on.

            It’s been like a week. Was there expectations for results already? Or is he actually hurt which would make these concerns make more sense? No that doesn’t mean I’m calling Joe Girardi a moron.

            • Mister Delaware says:

              To answer the question in there, its because concern for deadarm builds as time passes, especially if rest doesn’t work.

  12. EndlessMikeJr says:

    Phil Hughes=Carl Pavano

    Phil Hughes lied about he’s rib cage injury a few years ago and now we all knew something was wrong with Hughes and he masked an injury again.

    I wonder where all those “Save the Big Three” shirts are now?

  13. WIlliam Wallace says:

    Remember Generation Tres? Stupid MSM.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      Hasn’t worked out so well despite what some ppl think. That doesn’t mean their careers are over but…..

  14. Salty Buggah says:

    “he just seemingly had nothing in the tank again.”

    Damn gas prices.

    Seriously though, as long as there’s no shoulder/elbow injury and he truly is going through a dead arm period, I won’t panic. Get well soon, Phil.

  15. Urban says:

    A significant loss in velocity in a young pitcher for unknown reasons is almost always the result of an underlying, undiagnosed injury.

    • jsbrendog says:

      or just too much workload like verlander a couple yrs ago, who ended up being fine one season later

      • Urban says:

        It’s usually an injury. Verlander’s velocity drop wasn’t that significant, despite what many write. It was only about one mph average.

  16. J.R. says:

    You really have to wonder if this is a direct result of the huge jump in innings. That said, even if this is the end of Hughes, he has been a great success. In 09 he stabilized the bullpen and provided the “bridge” to Rivera. And in 2010 he was an 18 game winner and got the Yankees to the ALCS.

    While it is disappointing that he is injured, he cannot be looked upon as a failure. He is a great example of the Yankees developing young arms from within.

    • bakekrukow412 says:

      I really hope you are being sarcastic. The 2010 Giants is an example of developing young arms from within. Hughes is just sad.

    • Pasqua says:

      Wow…those are some low expectations. I would agree that Hughes’s career, to this point, has been adequate. Yes, his role as a set-up man was strong; and, yes, he had a great first-half last year, but to call that a “great success” as a career is a big ol’ stretch, in my opinion.

      If an actor wins an Academy Award for a role early in his career and then makes crappy films for the next ten years, is his career a success, or a footnote?

      But enough about Cuba Gooding Jr…

  17. Matt :: Sec110 says:

    “The silver lining to this unwelcome development is that Hughes felt no pain; he just seemingly had nothing in the tank again.”

    The radio is saying he felt something…

  18. A-Rod's Wingman says:

    Wish I had my vote back in the fan confidence poll.

  19. Jorge looks miserable says:


    And its not even May. Who would have thunk?

  20. mike_h says:

    Phil Hughes is the new Oliver Perez, dead arm which will never go away

  21. The Oberamtmann says:

    Honestly? I’m not surprised and I haven’t been since the year started. Hughes had an insane workload last year. I hope it’s just fatigue. If it’s fatigue, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a below-average pitcher for the rest of the year, but next year should come back crazy good. That’s my prediction.

  22. UncleArgyle says:

    Have we traded for Chris Carpenter yet?

  23. Tony S says:

    Hey if something is wrong better to find out now & get to it. Cashman has hoarded some retred pictures – lets see what happens.

  24. My god people, it’s a bullpen setback. He’s not dead.

  25. Accent Shallow says:

    This really, really sucks.

  26. Monteroisdinero says:

    As long as we keep up our 320 HR pace we have no problems :-(

  27. I close my eyes
    Only for a moment and the moment’s gone
    All my dreams
    Pass before my eyes a curiosity

    Dust in the wind
    All they are is dust in the wind

    Same old song
    Just a drop of water in an endless sea
    All we do
    Crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see

    Dust in the wind
    All we are is dust in the wind

    Now don’t hang on
    Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky
    It slips away
    And all your money won’t another minute buy

    Dust in the wind
    All we are is dust in the wind
    All we are is dust in the wind
    Dust in the wind
    Everything is dust in the wind
    Everything is dust in the wind

  28. A-Rod's Wingman says:

    I mean, to those yelling at the cliff jumpers: this organization’a track record with developing young pitching leaves a lot to be desired. It’s understandable if people are a bit shell shocked.

    • Way to blame the organization for his struggles before anyone even knows what the problem is or what caused it. Bravo.

      • A-Rod's Wingman says:

        I don’t think I blamed the organization, I just said that given the organization’s history developing young pitching it’s understandable if people are shellshocked and jump to the craziest option available.

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          True I agree. Ppl like to say it’s too early to judge them and we have to see what the B’s do. Why is that the case? All these guys come from the Yankee farm but it’s too early to critique how they handle pitchers.

    • It’s hard to agree with you that people should be easier on the cliff jumpers when we both agree they’re cliff jumpers.

      The jumping off of a cliff kinda implies the lack of perspective shown, shell-shocked or not. Nobody around here is a bigger skeptic of the way this team has approached the development curves of Phil/Joba/IPK than me, but I think we should at least wait a few HOURS, maybe, for more info to come out before saying that Phil Hughes will NEVER be a good starter ever again.

      • A-Rod's Wingman says:

        So you’re saying I should call off the hit?

        But on a serious note, the internet and this culture of “instant updates” provokes the stupidest parts of people’s brains. Combined with the emotional attachment most fans had to Phil Hughes, this leads to some pretty fucking stupid reactions. I’m just saying, that’s understandable.

    • Rockdog says:

      True, but every organizations track record with developing young pitching leaves a lot ot be desired. Pitching is an unnatural act; lots of guys get hurt or can’t make the leap to the majors. Not that we shouldn’t hope for better as fans, but let’s see what the issue is before we freak out.

      Look on the bright side; at least it wasn’t a bar fight.

      /brien taylored

      • Johnny On The Spot says:

        You had to go there…

        • Rockdog says:

          Yep. I was a huge fan at the time, and I tell you, no prospect has bummed me out like him. Freaking hard throwing lefty, #1 pick, during the dark days of the early 90s, and then … poof! Gone, like it never happened. I think he is one of two #1 picks (ever) to never play in the majors.

          I am not willing to give up on Phil, lets see how things play out, but the team can withstand his loss, if that is what happens. We have a solid team and a great farm system. Just sayin’.

    • bexarama says:

      There’s a difference between questioning the org when it comes to pitching and calling Hughes the next Pavano and Ollie Perez and saying we should’ve traded him when we had the chance based on a setback in a bullpen session.

      And cliff-jumping is cliff-jumping.

      • A-Rod's Wingman says:

        Meh…the “should have been traded” comments don’t belong next to the Pavano or Perez comments.

      • Poopy Pants says:

        And to characterize a whole group of people based on two comments above is kind of cliff jumping in it’s own right.

        • bexarama says:

          What group of people am I characterizing? Saying Hughes is equal to Pavano or Ollie Perez is dumb, sorry. Doesn’t mean that person is necessarily stupid, we all say stupid shit, but it’s a dumb thing to say.

  29. Cy Pettitte says:

    might as well trade the B’s or just euthanize them at this point

    • Gonzo says:

      Barbaro their asses!

      Enough time has passed right?

    • bakekrukow412 says:

      I’d trade all three of them for Felix at this point. I’m so sick of prospects. I was a big supporter of keeping Montero but even that is making me think twice if I can get a proven big leaguer.

    • The BIG 3 says:

      Raise your hand if you’re very concerned about the latest and greatest pitching prospect being an uber-light 155 lbs.

      Trade him NOW. His story will not end pleasantly in NY.

  30. Stryker says:

    someone above mentioned a correlation between hughes and verlander. of course hughes isn’t the talent verlander is, but i believe there could be a parallel situation happening here – too much workload. it’s entirely possible the juggling of injured starting pitcher to bullpen ace back to starting pitcher (with a significant jump in innings) to continuing to develop as a starting pitcher with no innings limit has been just a little too much in 4 years time.

    • jsbrendog says:

      ive mentioned it in as many threads where this comes up as possible and it never seems to get through most people’s thick heads

  31. Nuke Ladoosh says:

    Really hope the Brackmonster pulls it together quickly in AAA

  32. AndrewYF says:

    Back in Radbourn’s day they called this mysterious sapping of strength ‘arm gremlins’.

  33. Hurling Darvish says:

    Like everybody, I hoping it’s not seriously structural, and if it is, then hopefully an elbow and not the shoulder. Actually, it could be any part of his body, back, knee, etc, or the totally chic oblique.

    I’m kinda hoping it’s something like poor diet (or too good a diet), weight (too much or too little), conditioning (again too much or …) or even something between the ears, like depression. I suffer from mild depression and that can make you feel lifeless, even though there’s nothing wrong with me physically.

    Maybe he needs to wear ten phiten rare metal necklaces, or is having too much sex like the old boxer’s myth, or is having relationship problems or I dunno, obviously…

  34. Craig says:

    Maybe all this pitching mess will convince Andy to come back?

  35. ZZ says:

    This recent development does make one wonder, as Bob Klapisch did, “why the Yankees declined an MRI two weeks ago when it was obvious something was wrong” with Hughes. Perhaps they sent their number three starter for imaging scans then, but they’ve been awfully quiet about it if they did.

    MRIs are not candy. You can’t just go handing them out to every kid who knocks on your door on Halloween.

    In most cases, especially when you are dealing with athletes, you want to avoid giving an MRI unless you are sure something is seriously physically wrong with the person. If you speak to any doctor they can tell you about a number of people who received unnecessary surgeries as a result of “precautionary” MRIs. When you are dealing with a professional athlete who undoubtedly is going to show some type of damage in the scan, the risk of this is just magnified greatly.

    You have to be careful and responsible with these things despite fans often saying just get him checked out, what’s the harm?

    • Hurling Darvish says:

      You’re absolutely right. It’s not like you can MRI your whole body and find out what’s wrong. Typically you go ouch and get the MRI where it hurts.

      • Steve H says:

        Maybe they should MRI AJ’s head?


      • Gonzo says:

        Yes you can get a full body MRI. I can schedule one for next month if I wanted. Whether or not they’ll find the problem is another story.

        • Hurling Darvish says:

          Well, insurance probably will not cover that, so you’d have to be very rich to afford it and very patient for the results. My wife has had many MRIs and even focused ones on small areas, where they know what to look for, take over 24 hours in a hospital before a qualified specialist can look at it. much less diagnose it. If you don’t know what’s to look for, you’ll need a roster of doctors in all fields to check them out.

          • Gonzo says:

            Totally not practical for the average person. For someone with specific types of cancer, it could be a life saver, literally.

    • MRIs are not candy. You can’t just go handing them out to every kid who knocks on your door on Halloween.

      Why the makers of FourLoko haven’t yet made a drink called “LiquidMRI” is beyond me. Total untapped moneymaking opportunity.

  36. Pat D says:

    I’m jumping. I just can’t take this anymore. Between finding out what my “retention” and “severance” benefits would be today, I just can’t take this anymore!!!!!

    Oh, wait, I’m at work. There’s nothing from which I can jump. Oh, well, back to calls.

  37. YankeesFrontOffice says:

    Hughes is a perfect example of why all good young pitchers should be made into relievers. A good 70 innings per year is better than nothing.

  38. NJYankeeFan says:

    At this point, I’ll be happy with any injury that doesn’t involve his shoulder.

    The other issue is the Yankees are going to have to address the starting rotation when Colon and Garcia inevitably turn back into pumkins.

  39. Dr. O says:

    I propose until Hughes is healthy and useful, RAB replace his name with the word “ice cream”. “Phil Hughes” just does not make me feel good right now, “ice cream” does. So if he suffers any further setbacks we should be told “There will be no ice cream for a while”.

  40. Mocha Joe says:

    What happened was they destroyed this poor kid’s arm just like they destroyed Wang and nearly destroyed Joba. They don’t know how to develop young pitchers. Name one young starting pitcher since Andy Pettitte that we developed into a star in our farm system. You can’t name any! None! In 15 years. They don’t know what they’re doing.

    • Bob Stone says:

      Pettitte developed in spite of the Yankees. They really mismanaged their whole relationship with him.

      Pettitte came back to the Yankees and stayed a few extra years in spite of how thye handled his contract.

      Sorry if I am so negative but I am really concerned.

      • bexarama says:

        Pettitte developed in spite of the Yankees.

        What does that mean?

        Also, I think Pettitte’s development had not much to do with Hughes’. It was like, fifteen years before him.

  41. Bob Stone says:

    This is really frustrating. I don’t think the Yankees have managed this well. I will be surprised if we see Hughes back in the line up anytime soon. I think back to the no-hitter Hughes had going and he leaves wih a rib injury.

    The Yankees have screwed up their young pitching prospects. That is clear.

    I am very discouraged by this.

    I voted earlier toay in the Fan Confidence Poll as a 9. Had I known this information, I might have been in a range of 5 to 7.

    Very discouraging.

    • NJYankeeFan says:

      Cashman and gang are sure going to look like a bunch of fools if Hughes turns out to have some sort of serious injury when they’ve been trying to fix him by having him “long toss.”

    • How would you have handled it? How would anyone? What you would have proposed they do differently?

      I don’t see how you can make this determination when you don’t even have all the facts. Some fans around here are seriously just awful when it comes to anything related to Phil Hughes.

    • The BIG 3 says:

      Please end this, mods. Sorry and thanks.

    • The BIG 3 says:

      So Jesus gets an MRI for a bruised nut, yet Hughes doesn’t for his career? Is this proof that Cash loves DH’s more than starters, or what?

      Let’s count them:
      Jeter should be a DH, not that his bat supports such a move but he’s here for another 3 years anyway and Nunez would be an upgrade at SS.
      Arod should be a DH
      Swisher should be a DH
      Jones should be a DH
      Posada is the DH

      Montero wants to be the DH

      Yes, Cash does love his DH’s.

  42. Tom Merritt says:

    What concerns me about this is it makes me think of J. R. Richard. I’m old enough to remember what happened with him, how he complained of a dead arm, and how he began to be criticized before he had the stroke. His symptoms were more prominent and technology for diagnosis has advanced greatly over 31 years so I hope none of this applies to PH.

    I would hope they have already ruled out circulatory problems. Something is not right if he feels this badly and has lost this much velocity.

  43. Midland TX says:

    Yes, he’s young, but boy it seems like one frustrating mystery injury after another with Phil.

    Let me quote a short list compiled in the summer of 2008 at another website:

    July 2004 – Phil makes his first start as a future Yankee. He’s shut down with elbow stiffness the next day.
    August 2004 – Phil breaks his toe running in the hallway of his hotel to answer his cell phone.
    June 2005 – To the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis.
    2006 – A year to remember. Phil pitched 146 innings and avoided the DL.
    May 2007 – That damn hamstring. We blamed Marty Miller.
    May 2007 – Suffers a grade 3 ankle sprain during rehabilitation. Does anything scream injury prone like getting injured in rehab?
    May 2008 – Stress fracture to his rib. Still a mystery as to when and why that happened.
    May 2008 – Is nearsightedness an injury?

    I really hope this is just a lingering symptom of going from 105 innings in 2009 to 176 last year.

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