The 2012 Phil Hughes Watch: Reportedly Not Fat

Yankees interested in Cuban left-hander Gerardo Concepcion
Open Thread: Roger Clemens

Via Andrew Marchand, the Yankees have sent personnel to California to check in on Phil Hughes during his offseason workouts this winter, and reports say he looks “great.” Hughes is working out at the Athletes Performance Institute near his Southern California home this offseason, which he didn’t do last winter but did do the winter prior to that. The competition for the fifth starter’s spot is steep, but the gig is right there for the taking for Phil. Step one of winning the job is coming to camp prepared, and it sounds like he’s on the to doing just that.

Yankees interested in Cuban left-hander Gerardo Concepcion
Open Thread: Roger Clemens
  • PinedaColada

    Good to hear! Hopefully Philthy Phil from 2010 shows up

    • nsalem

      Is that the first half of 2010 or second half 2010?

      • thenamestsam

        People love to ascribe a ton of meaning to stuff like changes from one half of a season to another, but I don’t see any reason why his 2010 numbers are somehow less valid because the good part came first. Phil in 2010 threw 175 innings with a 4.2 ERA. It’s not what we dreamed about in 2007, but I would take it from our #5 starter every single year. If he can repeat that performance I don’t care what order he accumulates it in.

  • KeithK

    I hear that Phil is in the best shape of his life.

    • Rookie

      Best shape of his life? Everything’s relative.

      For him to do that all he’d have to do is not be the Philsbury Doughboy.

      And as for the importance/value of being in shape… Sure there are pitchers who pitch great whether they’re 200 or 250 or 300 pounds. David Wells and Bartolo Colon come to mind.

      But I’m not convinced that pitchers who build up their muscles and strength over time and keep their weight in fighting trim don’t do better than those who don’t. It pained me as a Yankee fan to watch Lester grow stronger and stronger while Hughes looked like he couldn’t care less what shape he was in. Yes, looks can be deceiving and being in shape is no guarantee of success. Witness the end of last year with Lester. But I think it helps.

      And now that CC’s contract has been extended, let’s see how long his knees hold up. How many knee operations has he now had? And wasn’t 2011 the second year in a row that the traditionally super strong second half CC pitched worse late in the season? Maybe it wasn’t the weight he lost in the offseason and gained back during the year. Maybe it was a Captain Crunch deficiency. But a pitcher with multiple knee operations who traditionally finished strong and has now finished weaker and has the pattern of weight gain that CC has is at the very least tempting fate. Well, since he’s now signed to a long-term contract, maybe it’s the Yankees who are tempting fate by not doing whatever it takes to keep CC, and his repeatedly surgically repaired knees, as lean and mean as possible.

  • Matt

    First “best shape of his life” mention this winter I believe. Spring ball must be around the corner now

  • William

    Best shape of his life? Meh. We’re not selling jeans here.

    • G

      “Talking the same old good looks crap like we’re selling jeans… Like we’re lookIng for Fabio…” haha

      I hope Phil bounces back, but this whole best shape of his life crap is hardly going to convince me a renaissance is coming.

      • Bo Knows

        He’s not the one saying he’s “in the best shape of his life” its those who went directly to check up on his progress. Hughes hasn’t uttered a peep about what he’s doing outside a couple of tweets saying “I just got back from the gym” with his buddy Ricky Romero. Don’t believe those who only talk, pay attention to those that do.

        Phil has been doing, not talking and I’m excited to see if he is back down to 2008-09 sized Hughes, but with 2010 Hughes fastball, cutter, and the old power curve that was rated the best in the minors.

        (Yeah I’m being optimistic but so what)

        • G

          I know, it’s just it’s the same thing year after year. There’s that one guy everyone wants to bounce back so all the reports of being in fantastic shape come in because it’s what people want to hear. I’m more optimistic about Hughes than most, but I’m not particularly concerned with the kind of shape he’s in. I don’t think a skinny CC would top out at 101 instead of 98, much like a skinny Hughes won’t sit 93-95 simply because he’s skinny. It may help out with his long term endurance, but he had problems last year that went beyond lack of endurance.

          If he comes into Spring Training hitting 93-95 consistently and a good biting curveball, I’ll be excited. All I take out of this is he’s at least motivated to get better, which is a nice start.

          Frankly if he pitches like he did after his return for an entire season, that’s absolutely fine for a 5th starter. I think that’s a key, he’s no longer being handed a top 3 spot, so he’s once again going to have to fight his way into a spot.

          • Landry

            Remember weight is just one factor in someone’s physical condition.

            • nedro

              Bartolo sez hi.

          • Bo Knows

            CC’s size doesn’t bother me because, despite his large size he has never lacked conditioning and has proven to be a very strong individual. Hughes’ problem was severe muscle inflammation, brought on by shoulder fatigue. It limited his strength, and capabilities so proper strength training is essential in that area.

      • Leg-End

        “Who’s Fabio?”
        “He’s a shortstop from Seattle.”

    • CJ

      Those athlete performance centers API D1 are serious training centers. All the NFL players train in these establishments and the trainers are the best in the world in strength, flexibility, conditioning and injury prehab. It’s all sport specific. I’m surprised he didn’t go last season. Perhaps he learned his lesson. This is seriously promising news.

  • DZ

    I hope there’s actually some truth to this, Hughes needs to step his game up, this is the year that could basically decide his career.

    Just in, Carl Crawford is starting the season on the DL

  • Rich in NJ

    I hope he’s working on the change as well.

  • Virgil Earp

    I think Phil knows this is it as a Yankee. Either he performs this year or he’s gone. He was supposed to be the mainstay in the rotation, not Nova. Instead he’s on the fringe and probably looking at a reliver’s spot. The top 4 are locked in and #5 is Freddy.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    “Step one of winning the job is coming to camp prepared…”

    I wonder why Bartolo didn’t sign with the Yankees :D

    • Rookie

      I don’t know, Bavarian Yankee. Maybe Colon didn’t sign with the Yankees because the Yankees knew they had treated him like a rented mule and probably once again destroyed his shoulder.

      With hindsight, I wonder if the Yankes might not like to have gone easier on Colon in the regular season with the hope that doing so might have increased the odds that he would have still been his amazing early season self in the post season. I would respectfully submit that that was something they should have been able to figure out withOUT the benefit of hindsight.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Hah. “Competition.” The Yankees already chose their guy, the Spring Training battles are a rouse.

  • BK2ATL

    I hope that we see Hughes take advantage of this opportunity and win this job outright in ST. Leaving no doubt about it. Then, proceed into the season determined to prove his worth to the team AND executing it.

    Sounds like he’s taking it seriously this year. I also hope that Banuelos and Betances show improved control and command during ST, and carry that into AAA.

    Here’s to hoping….

  • ryan

    Things would look pretty sweet if he comes into camp throwing gas. Imagine how much stronger the rotation would be with a rebound from hughes.

  • bpdelia

    Does “looks great” means he “LOOKS great” or is he throwing and “looks great” listen matchand that’s a shifty vague expression. All you had to do was ask “you mean his arm looks great or his ass looks brest?”. If its the former Olin very excited. The latter has basically Provence to be almost completely irrelevant.

  • Fin

    I have to imagine the starting job is Phils to loose. If he comes into spring training throwing well, its hard to believe he wouldnt get the last spot. I dont think the Yankees would announce anything until the last minute before the season starts though. They will use them all as starters see if all their guys stay healthy, and possibly work a trade if another team sees one of its pitchers go down. Trading AJ seems like a much more likely possibility during ST, if a team becomes desperate for pitching due to injuries.

  •!/czm26 Craig

    This is pretty much the best picture of Phil Hughes in existence.

    • nedro

      Wtf is that, red bull? Scotch? Urine? My money’s on red bull. And vodka.

      • MannyGeee

        Pour it on your hands!

        -Jorge Posada

    • DM

      He’s tweeting about hockey — or anything but baseball — with his other hand.

  • Rainbow Connection

    I hope his arm is in shape, too, not just his buttocks and abs.

  • bankers hours

    Seven signed starters, who goes? CC Kuroda and Pineda are givens, 2 spots among Nova Garcia Hughes and Burnett. I wonder if the Yanks knew they were going to get Pineda and Kuroad if they would have signed Freddy. For my money it Hughes to the pen and Burnett to the scrap heap.

    • Monster Mike

      Yeah, signing Garcia so early in the off-season was jumping the gun. There was no reason to lock him in that quick, even without the Pineda and Kuroda signings being forseen. I would have liked to have held out a bit longer.

      But if things work out the way they should, he will be gone as soon as we have the ability to trade him.