Last season, Phil Hughes’ velocity dipped in the first week of April. No one cared because he was in extended spring training. He didn’t make his first big league start until April 15, and at that point, the arm strength showed up and so did the velocity.
“It wasn’t something I felt in the bullpen,” Hughes said. “It was just there for my first start. Whether it was adrenaline-based or whether it took that much time for my arm to get in shape, I don’t know what it was. That was something in the back of my head that I was hanging on to, thinking that I didn’t make my first start until the 15th, so maybe my arm takes longer to get going and it will be there tomorrow. I can hope for that, but it’s not something I’m necessarily 100 percent banking on.”
Hughes is a realist about what’s happening with his velocity. That is to say, he has no trouble admitting that he’s not entirely sure what’s causing it. And he’s not entirely sure when it will be fixed.
Hughes said he feels fine, and he would get no peace of mind from seeing a doctor. He feels certain it’s not a medical issue. Video has shown that Hughes’ mechanics are sound. He might have been using his lower half a little bit more last season — he’s worked on that in the bullpen — but everything else looks right.
In the past five days, Hughes done a little more long toss than usual, and he’s been more aggressive in his bullpens, but he said he won’t really learn anything until he gets on the mound tonight.
“I don’t necessarily think it will feel different,” he said. “It just comes out of my hand better. There’s really no explanation, and there’s nothing that necessarily feels different. It’s just my arm being at its peak possible shape. I know I have more than what I’ve been showing, and that’s the frustrating part of going out and trying to pitch with stuff that isn’t you. I’m hoping it turns around quick, but if not, I have to try and find a way.”
The Yankees need him to find it sooner rather than later.
“I’m not concerned about it because I think this kid is talented, and it’s only two starts,” Joe Girardi said. “I believe it’s going to change.”
Here’s Hughes speaking on Tuesday, before the rainout that pushed his start to today.
Associated Press photo