Friday, April 15, 2011

N.Y. Yankees Put Hughes on DL with Case of "Dead Arm"

Today, Phil Hughes desire to be a season-long starter took another detour after the New York Yankees put the 24 year-old pitcher on the disabled list with a case of what they are calling "dead arm."  The team is blaming the nasty sounding ailment for the cause of the right-hander's bloated 13.94 ERA.

Bartolo Colon, who was edged out of the fifth spot in the rotation in spring training by Freddy Garcia, will replace Hughes.

Hughes (0-1) has been roughed up in all three starts this season and his struggles came to a boil after giving up five runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Baltimore Orioles last night.  The Yankees came back to win in the 10th-inning after Hughes staked the O's to a 5-0 lead.  Amazingly, Hughes' old ERA (16.50) dropped almost three runs after the beating.

After last night's blown outing, the Yankees took a hard look at Hughes' situation, decided to pull him from the rotation and put his arm on a slab.

"We just feel like he's going through a dead arm period," said manager Joe Girardi.  "We don't feel that he's hurt."

Hurt or not, there is no arguing something is wrong with Hughes' right arm.  The former flamethrower has seen his fastball turn into an 80 mph changeup.   Now, his bread-and-butter pitch, which was once clocked in the mid-90's,  has a hard time reaching the mid-80's.

After last night's game, Hughes stoically attempted to explain the unexplainable.

"I don't have a magic potion," the glum Hughes said.  "I feel like I'm bringing nothing to the team.  My fastball had a decent life after the first inning and then it just disappeared.  I tried to balance it with cutters, but made some mistakes.  Same old story, I guess."

While Hughes gets 15 days to revive his corpse of an arm, Colon will get to start.  Fans had been calling for the hefty righthander to replace Hughes for the past few days after he had a couple of good  outings while Hughes struggled.

Colon brings a respectable 3.97 ERA into the mix.  In three relief appearances, he has struck out 16 batters in 11.1 innings.

Girardi must be wringing his hands over where he went wrong with his No. 3 starter.  The manager had babied Hughes by limiting the number of innings he could through in a season (The Hughes Rules) and shuffling him between the starting rotation and the bullpen throughout his Yankee career.

The manager's hands-on approach seemed to work last year after Hughes went 18-8 with a 4.18 ERA and was selected to the All-Star team.  Although Hughes faded down the stretch and got rocked in two playoff appearances against the Texas Rangers, the team believed this was going to be their young pitcher's first full season as a starter.

While Hughes attempts to regain the zip in his arm, his roster spot will be filled by right-handed pitcher Lance Pendleton from the Yankees Scranton affiliate.  Pendleton is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA for the Triple-A club.

Just yesterday Girardi said, "It's our job to get him [Hughes] right.  We got to have him pitch.  He can't just go on a sabbatical.  We need to get this kid right."

Sabbatical?  No.  Morgue?  Maybe.

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