Apr
22

The overweight, out of shape, but now underweight, Phil Hughes

By

It seems we all have our pet theories on why Phil Hughes lost velocity on his fastball. But as outsiders, our knowledge ends there. Few of us have connections to people who know the facts of the matter, and without the facts we cannot proceed beyond speculation. Newspaper writers are degrees closer to the situation, in that they know people within the organization that possess the facts, or some of the facts. But that doesn’t mean it always adds up.

Joel Sherman dropped a curious tidbit on his Hardball blog yesterday. Apparently Hughes showed up to camp overweight, but the media was so focused on Joba’s gut that they overlooked, to borrow a term from Sherman, the doughy Hughes. The team knew, and sent him to what they call “The Fat Farm,” which conjures all sorts of images. The problem, according to Sherman’s source, was that Hughes needs that extra bulk to be effective, and that his trips to The Fat Farm cause him to lose too much weight. Hence, lost velocity.

It’s an odd theory, sure, and it doesn’t sound much different than many of the pet theories I’ve heard during the past few weeks. Brian Cashman scoffed at the notion, which is to be expected. But he also offered up that Hughes was “just a little out of shape.” That’s a bit more damning than “lost too much weight,” which lends it a little more credibility. Then again, “in shape” is such an ambiguous term that I really have no idea what someone means when they say “just a little out of shape.” If the definition of in shape varies from person to person, the degrees of shape vary even more.

Anyway, Sherman then dropped a line that he’s dropped before, and so far as I can tell he’s the only one who has dropped it: “there has been worry about [Hughes's] work ethic in the past.” I did a quick search for this, and the only negative mention I found was from Sherman himself, in a column from December, 2007. In discussing a potential Johan Santana trade, Sherman cut to the chase: “Hughes is the surest thing, and he has a questionable work ethic and more of an injury history at 21 than Santana at 28.” Through a few queries and pages of results, I didn’t find any other first-hand mentions of Hughes having a poor or questionable work ethic.

(Admittedly, that might be because most newspaper sites rank lowly in Google results, because they do things like move article URLs after a period of time. Let me tell you that one of the most annoying things is trying to Google a story from a few years ago, finding a link on a blog, and then getting an article not found message on the newspaper’s website. If they kept the articles in the same place all the time, maybe I’d have found the newspaper article itself in the search results and not the blog linking to it. End rant.)

What turned up were two mentions of Hughes having a strong work ethic. In a column from early spring training 2008, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch wrote a short feature on Hughes, in which Joe Girardi praised his work ethic. “He’s in great shape,” said Girardi. One year later John Harper wrote that, “The Yankees don’t have issues with Hughes’s work ethic, but privately they worry they haven’t seen the same dominating stuff he showed a couple of years ago.” Sherman’s statement did come first, so perhaps Hughes had slacked off at one point in the past. But he clearly had righted that by early 2008.

(And, if I remember correctly, though I can’t find it, there was some attribution to Hughes’s poor start in 2008 to his showing up to camp lighter than normal.)

There is definitely disappointment in Hughes. It’s pretty clear that he showed up to camp out of shape — why would Cashman say that if it weren’t true? — in a year when the Yankees really needed him. But beyond that we just have pet theories. Maybe one of them is right. Maybe he’s undertrained, or overtrained, or improperly trained. Maybe he needs to be heavier in order to pitch effectively. Maybe he just needs to be in proper physical shape. Whatever it is, he and the Yankees have put together a plan to help him recover, and things appear to be going well. He threw 30 pitches in the bullpen on Wednesday, and will throw another today. When he comes back is anyone’s guess. I’m just a little disappointed it got to this point in the first place.

Categories : Pitching
  • Rookie

    Obviously, I can’t know for sure. But maybe it’s as simple as Hughes not working out and having enough muscle mass. I’ve often wondered how Hughes and Lester both had very good minor league stats — and Hughes’ stats were better (actually off the chart great) as I recall — but Lester got more and more imposing physically while Hughes didn’t.

    Could it be as simple as Lester simply being more serious about his profession?

    I always thought the same thing applied to Melky (who also had pretty fine age-adjusted minor league stats, albeit not off the chart stats like Hughes) — and Cano while Melky was still around. Maybe it’s no coincidence that Cano didn’t take his play to the next level until Melky was shipped to Atlanta.

    Just a thought.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Except Cano was able to recover form his worst season ever in 2008 to his best season to that point the very next year with Melky still on the team.

      • Rookie

        You’re absolutely right, Joba. I stand corrected. Thanks for doing it so gently.

        But I still recall reading somewhere that the Yankees thought Melky was a bad influence on Cano.

        • http://twitter.com/NJ_Andy NJ_Andy

          It’s a common, if silly, narrative.

          • Rookie

            As I said, it/I may be completely off base. But why is it silly? Is it silly that ARod, with his intense workout regimen, may have been a good influence on Cano? If not, why couldn’t Melky, who after all was Cano’s bosom buddy, have been a bad influence on him? Who knows? Maybe Cano’s career was saved by ARod’s very positive influence.

            Again, relying on my ultra-scientific/100% reliable :) technique of very occasionally watching Yankee Magazine, Melky’s passion (and Cano’s, I guess) was apparently fast food — which also seemed intensely dumb. It’s like feeding Big Macs to a throughbred horse and expecting to achieve his full potential.

            Based on his age-adjusted stats in the minors and the majors, I think Melky could still become a very good player if he ever were to apply himself properly. And apparently ARod does, too — since, as you probably know, I believe he “begged” the Yankees to resign Melky (although I’m still glad they didn’t).

            • http://twitter.com/NJ_Andy NJ_Andy

              It’s silly because Melky was still around for 2009, and was still Cano’s best bud for that season.’sides, plenty of great players have wild night lives: look at Mick and Slick.

              Everyone at this level of play is super serious about their profession. I agree, probably not everyone’s at the level of A-Rod, and it’s probably a good thing that he and Cano started working out together. The bottom line thought is that we don’t know the players personal lives, and it’s impossible to form judgment based on a few rumors. Journalists only get a piece of the puzzle, and try to sell a whole narrative on it. Robbie’s in his prime now, this when he should be peaking.

              • http://twitter.com/NJ_Andy NJ_Andy

                Sorry if I appeared short, btw. It’s waaay past my bedtime.

              • Rookie

                I think you and Mike and mbonzo are right and I’m wrong — that it is just a convenient narrative and that Hughes’ drop in velocity is probably mostly or almost entirely about increasing his innings pitched too much in 2010.

                But I do think every professional athlete achieves a different percentage of his/her potential. Some get every last micron of it, some get by almost entirely on their ability alone, and others fall everywhere in between.

                I do think Mantle would have had a longer and even more amazing career if he’d taken better care of himself. And as a Yankee fan, I’ve always thought the same about Jeter. Remember how he allegedly came into Spring Training in 2009 (I think it was) having worked out like crazy, intent on proving that the people who said he was lousy defensively were wrong. That year, he was actually quite good in the field (for once — in my opinion) and he was nothing less than awesome offensively. You can argue that he deserved the MVP award that year.

                If that’s even partially true, it seems to me that had he been equally motivated for his entire career, instead of being as focused as he was on the New York nightlife, that he would have tapped more of his potential and accomplished more, not to mention set a much better example as the team captain, than he has.

                And who knows? Perhaps he would still have been more like the Jeter of old today, too.

                But again, I do think my narrative about Hughes is wrong and that you’re right — that it’s about increasing his innings pitched too much last year.

                • Mike HC

                  I could if I would but I didn’t because I can’t.

  • Rookie

    For whatever it might be worth, in some Yankee Magazine feature while Hughes was still in the minor leagues, I remember being surprised that he left the impression or maybe actually said outright that a video game/video games were a passion for him. Naive though it may be, I thought he would be spending more of his spare time working out or studying the game. And I’ve had the impression ever since that he talks a good game, but doesn’t really apply himself like he could/should if he wants to excel at the highest level.

    Again, his stats (adjusted for age) were amazing in the minors — Pedro Martinez like. So I don’t think it’s about his talent, but about his application.

    Again, we can’t and won’t ever know for sure.

    • http://twitter.com/NJ_Andy NJ_Andy

      Videogame passion = no work ethic?

      • Rookie

        Something he said in the Yankee Magazine feature made it sound like that was his passion. Like I said, it may be naive of me. But if I was in the minor leagues trying to get into the majors, I would hope that I would be focused on getting stronger, learning my craft, and studying what worked for successful pitchers, and learning weaknesses of opposing batters, etc.

        And it’s just one piece of the puzzle along with him not really (so far) fulfilling what I thought was sky high promise the way Lester has and what Girardi apparently said to/about him this Spring.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          You do realize that Lester didn’t turn into a true monster until he was older than Hughes is now, right? Everyone’s development path is different.

          Felix Hernandez was huge when he came up, the Mariners had to get on him constantly about his weight.

          I think it’s just a convenient narrative more than anything else. No one brings up weight until a guy struggles, it’s not just a coincidence.

          • mbonzo

            I fully expect to see articles about how Colon needs to lose weight after his first awful start.

          • Rookie

            Great point about age, Mike. Lester turned into a monster at age 24. Hughes turned 24 last year and was a monster Pre All-Star break with a 3.65 ERA and pedestrian Post All-Star break with a 4.90 ERA. Of course, he had already been a monster in the bullpen Post All-Star break in 2009 at age 23 pitching 33 innings to a 1.64 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.

            That would also seem to support the hypothesis that he just hit a wall because the Yankees increased his innings too much and that, as you and Andy and others say, it is all a convenient narrative and little or nothing more.

        • http://twitter.com/NJ_Andy NJ_Andy

          David Price tweets ALL the time, and plays in a FIFA leauge with fans on the PS3. He seems to be doing ok.

          Hughes, btw, tweets more about the Lightning than about video games.

          I promise Hughes’s number 1 passion is baseball, but that doesn’t mean that’s all he has to do all the time. Everyone has hobbies. A-Rod has his blondes, the Capt. has his models. Hughes can have video games. Cool, Greinke plays WOW.

        • Ted Nelson

          Everyone is going to have downtime. I don’t think it’s necessarily any worse to spend that time playing video games than at the bar or dating supermodels or reading books or playing with your kids or building immorally large houses in Tampa… It’s certainly possible that Phil Hughes has a massive video game addiction that is negatively impacting his career, but unless you have some evidence besides a quote from a magazine from 4 years ago… it’s pure speculation. He might also have a tear in his shoulder.

          Minor league stats aren’t a perfect indication for MLB success, either, by the way. There are plenty of guys who dominate the minors and fail totally in the bigs… as well as late bloomers who come on in the bigs.

          I know a kid whose friend went on a recruiting visit to OSU while Nick Swisher was there… he said that Swisher was a really chill dude: smoking a lot of weed, playing video games, and drinking beers the whole time the kid was there. Swisher is still known for stuff like going out to karaoke. He’s still managed to become a very good MLB player.

    • bexy on another computer

      There are alllll kinds of baseball players who talk about loving video games. Remember how the Rays did nothing but play We Farm last year, apparently? If you’re doing well it’s just a cute aspect of your personality.

  • IRF

    It seems to me that the “hes out of shape” narrative always springs up after the fact. Cano had a terrible year in 08, then people question his work ethic and weight. Same thing with Joba last year. I think its just a case of writers fishing for an answer. If Hughes was throwing 93 right now nobody would be talking about this.

  • Dino Velvet

    losing weight quickly will cannibalize muscle mass.

    • Rookie

      True, Dino. And if he came to Spring Training not having worked out and out of shape, with less muscle than he should have, and lost more muscle mass in the process of losing weight quickly, then perhaps that could explain his big drop in velocity all by itself.

      But again, I’m not sure we can ever know how much of it was that and how much of it was the big jump in innings pitched from 2009 to 2010 and how much of it was something else entirely. Still, I think you make a very good point, Dino.

  • http://twitter.com/NJ_Andy NJ_Andy

    Well said. That’s the whole tragedy of this Hughes thing: it feels like it could’ve been avoided. Phil’s great and he’s going to rebound, but that doesn’t make it feel any more reasonable.

    I just feel…jilted.

  • BklynJT

    Or maybe the Yankees overworked him last year and trying to CYA and blame it on Hughes being out of shape. =) loves me some conspiracy theories

  • Chris0313

    It seems like Rookie is going to have a very short career here at the major league level.

  • Gonzo

    It’s pretty obvious people. I can’t believe you guys don’t see it.

    He’s breathing too heavily through his right eyelid. Duh.

    • johnny

      Not only that, but we need a live rooster to take the curse off tex’s glove and nobody knows what to get alex and Cameron for their wedding. Were dealing with a lot of shit.

    • the Other Steve S.

      Maybe we could get Papelbon to give him some breathing tips.

    • Klemy

      He may even just need to grunt and fart more.

  • mbonzo

    I’ll tell you my narrative. The Yankees pushed him too hard in 2010. Instead of going with the stretched out Joba for the starting position, they pushed Hughes into throwing almost 100 more innings in the majors than he ever did before. 2011 is the “verducci effect” and expect it to be a long season for him. He’ll still be a good pitcher going into the future, but how hard is it to realize that doubling your IP from one year to the other is gonna have some effect on a 23 year old? Hopefully he learns how to pitch with his current stuff from the veterans, which will make him all the better when he gets his stuff back. All I have to say is, the front office really fucked up the last batch of pitching prospects, lets learn from our lesson and bring up the current batch like the other 29 clubs.

    • mbonzo

      Verducci listed these players in particular as possible candidates in January. I’ve added how well they’ve done so far next to them.

      Madison Bumgarner, SF (7.36 ERA)
      Alex Sanabia, Fla. Missed 2011 so far (elbow)
      Mat Latos, SD (5.84 ERA) Missed his first 2 starts (shoulder)
      David Price, TB (2.83 ERA)
      Brandon Beachy, Atl. (3.86 ERA)
      Phil Hughes, NYY (13.94 ERA) DL’d with Dead arm
      Brett Cecil, Tor. (6.86 ERA)
      Gio Gonzalez, Oak. (1.80 ERA)
      Dillon Gee, NYM (1.59 ERA) 1 Start sample he posted 4.63 ERA in AAA
      Travis Wood, Cin. (5.73 ERA)
      Ivan Nova, NYY (7.63 ERA)

      So far the only players to have maintained their success have been Price and Gonzalez. Beachy has been decent so he might not fall into the Verducci effect category yet. Yes its a small sample size, and yes ERA isn’t the best statistic to use, but I think its significant.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Cecil was sent to AAA yesterday. That’s what happens when you lose to Fatolo Colon.

      • Klemy

        Would seem that Gio Gonzalez is holding up well so far too.

        • Pasqua

          Yep, and that was noted by mbonzo.

  • http://www.michaelilkiw.com unSATISFYing

    Maybe Hughes is secretly Dominican and therefore is just lazy…

    • Kit

      IETC.

  • nsalem

    Maybe there are other reasons. Many great players of the past were not exactly focusing on their physical fitness. There are many documented wild tales of the Yankee’s of the 50′s. Doubt Babe Ruth had a physical trainer. Jackie Robinson showed up to spring training in 1948 grossly overweight and still managed a season that was comparable or better than 1947. Willie Mays had a penchant for barbecue ribs and was known to show up to day games with severe stomach pains. Phil’s only had 60 MLB starts. Maybe he just hasn’t learned to pitch consistently at this level. Everybody has a bump in the road. Velocity often leaves and comes back. patience

    • Pasqua

      There are a hundred possible causes, of course, but the concern over Hughes is not “pitching consistently” so much as it is “Where did the velocity go?” If he were throwing 94-96 and just catching too much of the plate, or throwing flat off-speed stuff, not many would be worried, but it’s the lost velocity that alarms.

    • Sultan

      Babe Ruth did indeed have a personal trainer, who was named Artie McGovern. But they didn’t begin working together until December 1925, when Ruth was 30. McGovern definitely prolonged Ruth’s career, and helped him maintain his greatness. Google “How the Babe got Fit”.

  • Skip

    I think Hughes’s biggest issue is is lack of command, velocity be damned (though a factor, for sure). Poor Martin had to pull every pitch back into the zone, and a lot of the pitches high and tight to lefties were left middle of the plate and in, right in the wheelhouse.

    As far as this lack of work ethic BS, Hughes was drafted by the Yanks out of HS because they appreciated his maturity and work ethic. Whatever Sherman is saying here is outright irresponsible, in my book. I’ve followed Hughes since he was drafted and I do not remember one mention about work ethic concerns.

  • A.D.

    So Hughes being in best pitching shape is to be out of shape?

    And otherwise its nice that Hughes “looks” or “feels” good in the pen but with out velocity ratings can’t see if actually building

    • Pasqua

      To follow the logic of the MSM, it appears that there is a window of approximately 1.3-1.7 pounds that Hughes must weigh-in between in order to be effective. Baseball is a game of inches on the field, as well as around the waist, apparently.

  • Guest

    I fall on the Verducci effect side. The Yankees pushed Hughes really hard last year. They used 146 IP as his baseline, but we all know they were being too cute by half. He hadn’t thrown nearly that many innings in a couple of years. 180 inninggs plus some more in the playoffs was a big jump for him.

    Now, he’s feeling after effects. Hopefully, Phil will be back to being Phil soon. But I think this year (see mbonzo’s post about other young pitchers who have st ruggled this season) is serving as a bit of a reminder that human arms (especially underdeveloped ones) have limitations, no matter what Nolan Ryan says.

    I’ve said it a million times and I will probably say it a million more times, for every Nolan Ryan, there are hundreds of arms laying by the waste side because they got burned out too early in their careers. We just don’t remember their names because they never made it. We only remember those outlier oldtimers who did make it despite excessive abuse. The human arm wasn’t somehow strong in the 50′s and 60′s. Evolution doesn’t work like that.

    Now that we know better, we should act like we know better. Phil got pushed too hard last year and we are seeing the consequences this year. Hopefully they will try to prevent this mistake from occurring again in the future. (*Cough, Banuelos, cough*). The only way they can do so is if they realize that the “win now mentality” should not apply to young pitchers (You don’t stunt Joba’s development because you need a “7th/8th innning guy” in 2007, You don’t make a 24 year old throw 80 more higher stress innings than he did the year before). If you apply that mentality to young pitchers, something’s going to give.

    Unfortunately, its probably going to be the kid’s arm.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Unfortunately the win now mentality is here to stay. We all would like to see it change but we know it won’t. There are already ppl suggesting Man Ban should come up to be a lefty out of the pen when he is nearing his innings limit. WTF

      • Ted Nelson

        Ehh… No. The Yankees do have innings limits for their young arms. You know why they’re called the “Joba rules” and not the “Kerry Wood rules” or “Mark Mulder rules?” Because the Yankees make a conscious effort not to burn out their young arms. Perhaps they were overly confident with a 24 year old Hughes, but this is not a sweeping problem for the Yankees.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          I’m fine with the innings limit I just don’t want the same mistake made again

          • Ted Nelson

            No team is going to be perfect. In fact, there’s no perfect way to do things. They could have pitched Hughes only 100 innings last season, and he still could have gone down this season and needed TJS. There’s no proof that the Yankees did anything wrong with Hughes, so I wouldn’t just jump to that conclusion and start accusing them of overworking young pitchers. They have been pretty careful not to overwork their young pitchers.

            Study a little baseball history and you’ll realize that tons of strong starters came up as relievers for 1/2 a season, a full season, several seasons even.

            • The Big City of Dreams

              Again with the insults Ted. I find it interesting that anytime someone questions moves the Yankees have made you take it to heart like no other poster I have met. What’s so wrong with questioning the Yankees moves if a fan doesn’t agree with them.

              Calm down and relax

    • Ted Nelson

      Could be the case, but he hadn’t pitched only 70 inning since at least 2004. He threw 100 innings in 2009, not 70. You may be right, but you’re over-exaggerating how obvious the case for not pushing him was.

      Also, accusing the Yankees of going win now with young pitchers is disingenuous. They are all about innings limits. They took a ton of crap for limiting Hughes and Joba’s innings. You’re preaching to the choir here. This is not Oakland or the Cubs. They don’t have 20 year olds on 200 inning workloads. Hughes was 24 last season. He was a big boy, and you have no idea what his overall workload was in years past. Whether you’re throwing a 95 MPH FB in a game or bullpen session it takes the same toll on your arm. Perhaps they did push him too hard, but I think you’re bending the facts to make it seem more obvious than it is.

  • Steve

    Forget the losing weight part of it – it was obvious from the first pic of Phil in camp that he was flabby. It was unacceptable for Damon and Abreu to come into camp out of shape, for Joba and for Phil. I remember Sherman questioning Phil’s work ethic a few years ago and I pooh poohed it…………..but now it appears that he was right.

    This does NOT speak well of Phil at all.

    What he says and what he does differ drastically, it seems to me. He said in ST that he was very disappointed in his 2nd half and post-season. So what does he do? He sloughs off and shows up out of shape. He said last year in Seattle (around the ASB) that he wanted to use his change. Guess what? He didn’t use it until the last few starts of the season. This ST, he said his goal during the off-season was to work on his curve and his change……..and neither of them have been much good. At some point, people are going to tune out what Phil says – because, in the end, it’s all talk.

    This was such a disappointing thing to read… That said, though it hurts the Yankees, they’ll be ok in the long run. If Phil wants to shortchange the talent he was blessed with and end up being another in the long line of hyped pitchers who never lived up to their promise, that’s on him.

    • Ted Nelson

      Who cares what Phil Hughes says in interviews?

      You’re honestly questioning the integrity of someone you don’t even know based on their failure to be amongst the very best in the world at something? You have no idea how hard he works, so don’t act like you do. It’s one thing to question his work ethic, it’s another to act like you know what his work ethic is like.

  • Steve

    Phil had a great pitcher’s body – reminded me of a young Clemens. However, he’s gotten grossly big on top – reminds me of an old Clemens.

    Oddly, Phil has never had that bump in velocity that most young pitchers get – that has puzzled me. Then again, he was awful in the 2nd half last year (actually since 5/17) because he has absolutely no secondary pitches.

  • Dave

    Perhaps Pettitte’s retirement removed that peak physical condition example among the pitching staff. I remember there being some mention of Hughes and/or Joba working out with Clemens and Pettitte when the two would do their crazy conditioning. I also remember thinking that it would behoove them to fall into similar habits :/

    • Ted Nelson

      When the two of them were shooting steroids into their butts, also.

      Joba was more noted for falling off the wagon when Clemens left. Just last offseason the media narrative was the Hughes had a superior work ethic which allowed him to beat-out Joba and project as a better starter in the Yankees eyes… Perhaps he did take it easy this offseason (perhaps even on the Yankees orders after a large workload increase), but perhaps the media has no idea what it’s talking about and just throws extreme theories down to sell papers.

  • Yank the Frank

    Maybe this will be a wake up call for Phil that you can’t take your physical shape for granted.

  • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

    I’m surprised there’s no mention of his ‘california laid back’ personality, that’s obviously the reason.

    Did i do that right?

  • http://Facebook.com/andrewjcalagna Drew

    Didn’t Hughes show up to Florida early this Spring Training? This conditioning thing is a load of crap. I’m no pitching expert but my best logical guess would be the innings increase. Pitching/Pitchers are a mystery. Almost every organization has a different philosophy on how to handle a pitchers workload. It’s all one big crap shoot. Hughes is easily my favorite player so this really sucks it’s happening to him, but the only thing we as avid fans can really do is hope the Yankees and Hughes know what their doing and this is just a blip on the radar.

  • Tank the Frank

    I think what we have to come to terms with is that Hughes’ velocity has been up and down his entire major league career. He may just be one of “those pitchers” that loses his velocity every now and then.

    Early scouting reports raved about Hughes’ velocity and command.
    http://allyankeeinfo.blogspot......eport.html
    And during his brief call-up in 2007 we saw some of that promise. Then in 2008, Hughes faced a number of nagging injuries and we saw his velocity drop into the 89-91mph range for the entire season. Now, keep in mind, he didn’t suffer any arm injuries that year so it’s wrong to conclude that those injuries had something to do with his drop in velocity.

    Then of course, in 2009, we saw the Hughes we all know and love throwing gas and making hitters look overmatched out of the bullpen. We saw that again in the rotation last year.

    I’d like to think the Yankees know what they’re doing. That this is in fact a tired arm. It happens to pitchers. I hope he can recover, stay healthy, and give us a productive season. By next year, he should be clear of all “Verducci rules,” he’ll be in his prime at 25 and acclimated to throwing a full season in the bigs. Hopefully by then we can get used to seeing Hughes continue his ascent to one of the top pitchers on the Yankees staff.

  • MikeD

    I believe nothing the NY Post writes.

    • MikeD

      …and the Daily News.

  • Dave

    Before Hughes was throwing his hardest (in relief), he had gone to a hardcore workout camp. He was bigger — in a good way — burly and more muscular. I don’t think he did that in this offseason. For some reason he didn’t maintain his added muscle mass. He doesn’t look fatter; he looks smaller and softer to me.

  • Guest

    I dunno, I fee like we have seen way too many pitchers throw at the same/similar velocity at different weights to think its that big of a deal. (See Colon, Fatolo; Clemens, Roger (though there may have been other factors here))

    What we have also seen is a lot of pitchers having at least a temporary dip in velocity the season after pitching more than they ever had in their young careers (Verlander, Hamels, Lincecum, ad infinitum).

    Seems to me that the question of whether Hughes has gotten “softer” while gaining weight or “lost too much muscle” while losing weight is a red herring. The “year after effect” seems like a far more plausible explanation.

    • fire levine

      It should be noted that Verlander and Hamels saw their velocity jump back while lincecum continues to trend downward.

  • Billy

    Joel Sherman drops the work ethic bomb whenever someone is struggiling. The guy is an idiot.Did the same thing with Cano,Joba,and everyone else who struggled early in his career.

  • Neil

    I think what we should realize is that in baseball conditioning does not appear to go hand in hand with the sport thus the articles about guys coming into camp in great shape point out the abnormal behavior of these players rather than the norm.