Phil Hughes’ bullpen session yesterday ended after only 10 to 12 pitches.
“Same as before,” said Hughes, who is on the disabled list with arm fatigue. “It’s like nothing’s coming out ... just a lot of deadness. Nothing really there after the first 10 [pitches] or so, so I’m just going to take a couple days, rest it and re-evaluate it from there.”
The 24-year-old won 19 games last season but is 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA in three starts this April as his fastball velocity has dipped to 88 mph.
“He just felt like there was nothing there and that’s a concern,” manager Joe Girardi said before the Yankees 2-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox. “If he’s not able to bounce back on [his] normal routine, that’s a concern.”
By getting the arm re-valuated, Hughes will not make a minor league rehab start just yet. He will consult with team doctor Chris Ahmad in the hopes of hearing good news.
“It’s something I’m worried about,” Hughes said. “We’ll rest it for a little bit and see if that has any impact. We’ll take a couple of days and see what Geno and those guys think.
“I’m just trying to take every step to get it right. Obviously if they think there’s something going on and want to check it out, then I’m up for that too, but I’m not in any position to want anything other than to stay healthy.”
It is not the first time and won’t be the last time a pitcher has experienced this on the Yankees.
It occurred six summers ago when Chien-Ming Wang woke up one morning with a dead arm and missed roughly two months. He became a two-time 19-game winner but eventually tore a capsule in his shoulder and has yet to return.
A more recent example for the Bombers would be Chamberlain, whose role famously fluctuated when he came up to the big leagues. The reliever suffered a shoulder injury in August 2008, missed a month, lost velocity over the next two years and slowly is seeing it return slightly.
It also occurred last week with Toronto’s Brett Cecil.
Cecil was a 15-game winner who excelled against the Yankees while logging a career-high 172 2/3 innings and averaging 91 mph on his fastball. In 21 innings this year, the velocity has dipped slightly and last week, the Blue Jays sent him to Triple-A.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself,” Girardi said. “I’ve seen a lot of pitchers that have thrown a lot of innings the year before and not come back quite with the same velocity and I think Cecil went through it and here’s a guy we had him at 92, 93 and he just got sent down.”
The way this could be headed, getting sent to the minors might be the least of the Yankee worries with Hughes.
A look at recent cases of arm fatigue:
» Brett Cecil, Blue Jays
A 15-game winner a season ago, his velocity dipped slightly and Toronto sent him to Triple-A last week.
» Joba Chamberlain, Yankees
His role famously fluctuated. Joba suffered a shoulder injury in August 2008, missed a month, lost velocity over the next two years but is slowly seeing it return.
» Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees
A two-time 19-game winner woke up one day with a dead arm then tore a capsule in his shoulder and has yet to return.