Page last updated on Fri Oct 28 15:43:42 EDT 2016
Thu, 08 Mar 2012 03:49 PM EST

Phil Hughes knew without being told that his physical conditioning had to become better.

“For me, last year was a declination and I did not want to do that again,” he revealed, “so I made very certain I had no excuses coming into spring. I was ready to go. I was strong. It’s all on me. At the day’s close, I have to need it.”

Hughes reached 93 miles per hour with his fastball in his 1st outing of spring training, permitting 2 runs and 4 hits in the New York Yankees’ 7-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton. Football lines

Before the game, Joe Girardi specified his displeasure with Hughes’ physique last year. The N.Y Yankees manager barely goes public with feedback of one of his players.

Hughes became an absolute pitcher in 2010 when he went 18-8 and was picked for the American League All-Star team, but he slipped to a 5-5 record in an injury-filled 2011. Girardi recommended perhaps a feeling of entitlement slipped in last year and made obvious that Hughes is among 4 pitchers competing for 3 open slots in the Yankees’ starting rotation. NFL betting lines

“I consider you can tell by the form that he came into camp that there’s a little bit more of an edge,” Girardi expounded. “He worked incredibly tough this winter. He was here 2 weeks early, throwing off the mound, doing sides. That isn’t something we ask our players to accomplish. We had plenty of people come in early, but he knows that there’s competition, and nothing is going to be handed to you.”

Only CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are guaranteed of starting spots, with Hughes struggling Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Freddy Garcia for the remaining 3 berths.

“I definitely feel better than last spring,” he claimed. “I’m in a dogfight now, so I’ve got to pitch well. You never wish to give up runs in the spring when you’re fighting for an employment. I’ll have a few more outings to show the staff what I am able to make.”

A casual laid back 25-year-old from Orange County in California, Hughes has faced good expectations since the N.Y Yankees took him with the 24th pick of the 2004 beginner draft. When he came up to the majors in 2007, he had a no-hit bid through 61/3 innings at Texas in his 2nd start, leaving with a pulled left hamstring.

He was just 0-4 in 2008, missing most of the season with a broken rib, then was shifted to the bullpen in June 2009 and became the primary set-up man for closer Mariano Rivera. Back in the rotation the next year, he seemed set for stardom.

Then he went 0-1 with a 13.94 Era in his 1st 3 starts last year, when he had trouble reaching 90 mph with his fastball.

He was sidelined from April 15 to July 6 due to an inflamed right shoulder and abandoned a chance to start in the playoffs when a 7-year-old back injury recurred in mid-September. He threw 21/3 scoreless innings over 2 appearances in the 5-game division series loss to Detroit.

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