Dave Eiland coached Phil Hughes in Double-A. He coached him in Triple-A. Now Eiland is coaching Hughes in the big leagues, and last night he saw perhaps the finest – and certainly the biggest – start of Hughes’ career.
“It’s very gratifying,” Eiland said. “I’m very proud of him, and that was the first thing I told him. It’s a team game and he stepped up. He’s well on his way to being what we all thought he was going to be.”
Eiland seems to have a good relationship with all of his pitchers. He turned A.J. Burnett around for a while, he helped Boone Logan become a reliable lefty specialist and just last month he found a slight mechanical flaw in the greatest closer of all time.
But Eiland has seen Hughes for the better part of his career. Hughes was a premier prospect from the day he was drafted, and much has been expected of him for more than six years. The Yankees have gone out of their way to protect Hughes’ arm in the minor leagues, and this year in the big leagues.
In so many ways, it was all leading up to last night.
“We saw how strong he was, and in his last couple of starts in the regular season,” Eiland said. “I’ve been saying it for years, he’s mature beyond his years, and I think a lot of it goes back to his upbringing, his parents and the way they brought him up. He’s a just a consummate professional. He’s only 24 but I have a lot of respect for him and look up to him by the way he handles himself and goes about his business.”
“…He challenged hitters. Here it is, hit it. That’s what he has to do. That’s who he is. That’s what I saw.”