Nearly sent down, Hughes’ concerns landed him on DL

Garcia tames Rangers on rainy Saturday
Checking in on Mark Melancon

When the Yanks placed Phil Hughes on the disabled list on Friday with what the team is terming a “dead arm,” we originally reported the move as a demotion. Initial reports had Hughes heading to AAA to work on his stuff, but those were subsequently deemed false. It seems though that they weren’t too far off the mark: The Yanks were going to send Phil Hughes to the minors before the pitcher intervened.

According to a George A. King III report in The Post today, Hughes’ own reticence kept him in the Bronx but on the shelf. The club was going to send him down, but Hughes didn’t feel more pitching would help his velocity woes. King writes, “Hughes couldn’t exactly say what the problem was, but he didn’t believe continuing to pitch — even in the minors — was the right way to inject life into his dead right arm.” Hughes himself talked in more guarded tones. “After 30 pitches, there was nothing there. I felt like a reliever who had thrown four straight days,” he said.

Clearly, that’s not what you want to hear from your 24-year-old right-hander who was lined up to be the team’s third starter this year. Hughes, who had no tests done before the DL trip, will start a long-toss program soon with an eye toward building up arm strength. It’s worth noting that Phil’s 192 innings last year were a career high by a significant amount. Hopefully, this truly is only a dead arm.

Garcia tames Rangers on rainy Saturday
Checking in on Mark Melancon
  • Steve H

    Guess Phil didn’t want to go back to riding the minor league buses.

    • Mickey Scheister

      I’d imagine they’d make him ride the ole Scranton bus before he pitches for the Big Team again, just to test out his long toss results. One or two starts in the minors then back up taking the place of the least effective of Nova/Colon/Garcia; barring, of course, no more injuries.

  • Mickey Scheister

    Someone posted yesterday that Verlander randomly lost his velocity his second year in the bigs, he’s all good now. I’m hoping it’s a conditioning issue and this long toss program works and Hughes is back touching 95, and averaging 91-92 with his heater. If not, I know I’m gonna get slaughtered for this, but he looked much better after that year in the pen, maybe he could build up strength in the bullpen and be transitioned back to the rotation when he gets his swagger back.

    • murakami

      He can’t stay stretched out in short relief although maybe they could bring him back into things through bullpen to emphasize the off-field strengthening since he’d be throwing mostly his FB.

      It wouldn’t work IMO to have him try to build up in the BP though but AFTER maybe a couple of cameos just to stress use and command of his heater.

      Verlander has a beautiful easy throwing motion that allows him to throw gas in the later innings. It’s true you look at him and can’t imagine how he could have had that trouble in 2007.

    • Tim

      I came here to post this. Verlander lost 2-3 velo in 2007 and 2008 after working 60+ more innings than he ever had before in 2006. I hope this is just the same kind of thing, but, it seems, we will have to wait and see.

      • Tim

        2-3 MPH off velo*

    • Epy0n

      I read that to last night then watched Verlander and he was throwing heat +95mph.

  • The Big City of Dreams

    “After 30 pitches, there was nothing there. I felt like a reliever who had thrown four straight days,” he said.”

    Definitely something you don’t want to hear.

    • Steve H

      So he felt like Scott Proctor?

      • Mickey Scheister

        Without the “clicking” noise.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        lol poor Scotty he was driven into the ground.

  • Gonzo

    The question is, would he have spoken up if he wasn’t going to be sent down.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      I would like to say he would but didn’t he pitch with the rib injury back in 08?

    • Benjamin Kabak

      He has a bit of a history of not speaking up about these types of injuries.

    • Pasqua

      Kay was just talking about this on his radio show, saying that the culture of baseball is such that, when a pitcher speaks up about not being “able to answer the bell” – especially a young pitcher – his character is brought into question by the manager and Front Office. While I’m sure this is overexaggerating to a degree, I would bet that’s one thing that would have kept him from speaking up.

  • Camilo Gerardo

    good to see master phil taking control of his own destiny, no

    • JMK

      I don’t understand this sentence.

  • Eric

    Remember Cole Hamels went through something similar to this the year after the Phillies won the World Series. He also had a career high in innings pitched that year.

  • Phil

    I believe the Yankees should check for any physical reasons he has a dead arm before any further throwing. Cashman is like an ostrich with his head in the sand.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Do you really think the Yanks didn’t do that already? They ran the tests before making the decision to send him down and found nothing. That’s why they were willing to send him down, but Hughes’ responses dictated rest before pitching again.

      • Urban

        I don’t know if they did. They seem to keep saying they have not sent him for tests, unless I’ve missed something in the last day.

        Or am I being too trusting?!

  • V

    I know next to nothing about pitchers arms. But makes it sound like ‘dead arm’ can be related to labrum issues…

  • Kevin G.

    Did Hughes say the same thing when Wang came back from the DL in 2009 and Hughes was gonna be sent down and then was sent to the bullpen?

  • danimal

    From dealing with my own elbow issues as well as tweaked (sprained/strained) knee/hamstring soft tissue, I’ve found that the only way to get rid of a strain or an overuse problem is to rest it. Problem is a lot of guys try to pitch through the problems and seriously injure themselves.

    I’d say it’s smart for Phil to shut it down for 2-3 weeks so that he can be healthy when it’s important… in September-November(I hope). I wouldn’t worry about the starts now… isn’t that why we signed 4 mediocre vets? So that they can get us into june and the trade deadline?

    BTW Garcia looked special last night. I remember seeing Mussina after he finally learned to deal with his 89 mph fastball and his really unhittable approach. Think about Jeff Weaver. Never managed to throw a lick over 90, and stayed in the league for a loooong time.

  • bonestock94

    I take most of the stuff they say with a grain of salt, but those guys from the mlb network said that sometimes after young pitchers throw a lot more innings then they’re used to they take it easy when training in the offseason. Maybe its just his conditioning.

  • Adam

    I think the Yankees made the right move here putting him on the DL first because I thing Hughes’ significant rise of innings pitched last year has to be a contributing factor to his problems. I know the “Verducci Effect” is kind of sort of recognized by the sabermetric community, but at least in Hughes’ case it had been a couple of years since his career high in innings pitched I think makes him a more likely candidate for regression than others. Hopefully this does the trick because we need him back and healthy if we want a shot in the playoffs this year.

  • Tom Zig

    It was an increase of 80 innings from the year before when you add up AAA, regular season, and playoffs from 09. Don’t teams normally increase workloads by like 40-50 innings per year?

    Even if you want to go back and use the previous high from 07 it’s still an increase of like 76 innings.

    Shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he has a dead arm.

    • SteveD

      Everyone talks about innings pitched. What about pitches thrown? It seems to me like Phil always has a high pitch count.

      • JMK

        Ding, ding, ding.

        It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

        • JMK

          Also, as I’m sure some have noted, it’s not about the raw innings pitched or even the pitch counts themselves, but the stress level.

          Hopefully there’s some sort of metric in the future that can delineate ‘high stress pitches’ from ‘medium’ and ‘low’.

      • JimAbbottFan

        Is there a stat that tracks pitches per inning (PPI) and then extend that to average pitches per inning (aPPI)? As mentioned before, associating workload by just the quantity of innings pitched doesn’t seem too accurate when assumptions are made by some generalized pitch count.

        It would be interesting to see a more precise reading of each pitcher’s realistic workload.

  • Burt Bondy

    They ruined that poor kid’s arm and let’s just hope he can recover. They destroyed Wang, Joba is just starting to regain form as a reliever, and now Hughes. Since Andy Pettitte we haven’t developed a single pitcher worth a damn. I just hope they didn’t destroy the kid’s career.

    • Jerome S.

      I wouldn’t say yet that they ruined the kids arm; his lack of velocity is a recent phenomenon. Though the Yankees ability (or lack thereof) to find stud pitching prospects and not make much out of them is becoming a concern, but we’ll wait and see how the next big three develop before we call it endemic.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      I don’t think his career will be fine. We have seen guys regain velocity after losing it but it is a concern that so far they haven’t been able to develop a starter and make them stick.

    • toad

      This worries me too. A few years ago we thought that Hughes and Chamberlain would be reliable starters by now. Joba isn’t, and Hughes is worrisome, at least.

      And as for Melancon, if relievers are a dime a dozen why are the Yankees spending $20 million/yr or so on Marte, Soriano, and Feliciano?

      • Benjamin Kabak

        And as for Melancon, if relievers are a dime a dozen why are the Yankees spending $20 million/yr or so on Marte, Soriano, and Feliciano?

        Poor investment strategies coupled with meddling for FO guys who probably shouldn’t be making baseball decisions.

        • Zack

          Not to mention that Marte/Feliciano throw with the other arm.

  • Dr. O

    I am still confused though, why didn’t Hughes say that right after he left the game? I’m assuming if he did the DL stint would have been the first idea instead of having to tell him he was headed to AAA first. If after 30 pitches he felt dead I’d think that’s pretty important information to tell your manager.