June 14, 2011

Phil Hughes making strides in Tampa

Despite my earlier post about the injury bug stinging the Yankees, there is some good news for one rehabbing player.

Phil Hughes, the Yankees’ preseason No. 3 starter, pitched 3 2/3 innings in an intrasquad game this morning, striking out six and allowing two hits with his fastball touching 93 mph, according to MLB.com’s Dawn Klemish.

“It felt good; a lot better,” said Hughes, who is scheduled to pitch Sunday for short-season Class A Staten Island. “I thought the ball was coming out pretty good, and that's all I can really ask for at this point. I'm just trying to build it up and make sure I don't have any setbacks.”

Hughes struggled with velocity problems in his first three starts of the season before being placed on the disabled list on April 15.

So when will he be back? It’s too early to tell. I can say it won’t be this month, and I wouldn’t bet on next month either.

Hughes showed how valuable he can be to the Yankees by winning 18 games last season, but unless he’s at 100 percent, he can’t help the Yankees at all. My advice to the Yankees: take it slow with Hughes. He turns 25 in 10 days and could have many great seasons ahead of him. Don’t blow his career this season — of all seasons.

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