Friday was Phil Hughes' 25th birthday. But aside from the extra-large birthday cake that the opposing team presented him, he had little cause for celebration.There was also this quote from Cashman about Hughes' ongoing rehab
With Brian Cashman looking on, the Yankee righthander made his third rehab start, taking the mound for the Double-A Trenton Thunder against the New Britain Rock Cats and showcasing a fastball that was consistently in the low 90s.
But just five days after what he described as an "encouraging" rehab start in Brooklyn, Hughes' effort against the Rock Cats gave him no such confidence in the 3-2 Thunder loss. He needed 72 pitches to get through 3-1/3 innings, throwing just 42 strikes, and never looked dominant. In Sunday's rehab start, his fastball had touched 95; Friday, he didn't eclipse 93, and the Rock Cats routinely caught up with his pitches and fouled them off.
"I felt like I was uncharacteristically wild a little bit... my fastball was all over the place," said Hughes, who has been on the DL with a dead arm and shoulder inflammation since April 15. "I'm encouraged by the fact that I feel good and everything like that. But as far as the results and what I was doing out there, I'm not encouraged."
Hughes' final line (three strikeouts, two walks, three hits, one earned run) hardly told the story of his struggles. Hughes said he saw positives - he threw "some good cutters," felt "healthy" and gave up a pair of infield singles. But he never showcased overpowering stuff, inducing just six swing-and-miss strikes.
Hughes hit 93 on the radar gun seven times over the first two frames, needing 28 pitches through two hitless stanzas. But his fastball never eclipsed 91 thereafter, and his control seemed to gradually abandon him.
"He'll probably need about two more to go, as long as the New York side is OK," Cashman said before the game. "As long as the New York side is OK, we'd like to stretch him up to about 100 pitches, increase him by about 15 every outing."As long as he feels fine physically I wouldn't be too concerned about the drop in velocity at this point.