(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
The Saga of Phil Hughes has had so many twists and turns at this point, it's easy to get lost in the news feed. Let us recap:
- Hughes is the Yankees' first pick of the '04 draft. Some dude named Joba is taken with the sandwich selection.
- Hughes rockets through the farm system, earning the "ace-in-waiting" tag.
- Hughes makes his Yankees debut on April, 26, 2007. Five days later he is pitching a no-hitter in Texas when he tears his left hamstring. He is shelved for three months.
- While on the disabled list, Chamberlain is promoted and becomes an instant sensation out of the bullpen. Joba supplants Hughes as the club's top prospect in the process.
- Hughes relieves an injured Roger Clemens in Game Three of the '07 ALDS and delivers New York's only win of the series. At 21, he is the youngest Yankee pitcher to win a playoff game.
- Hughes is the centerpiece of a proposed trade that would bring Johan Santana to the Bronx in the winter of 2007. GM Brian Cashman doesn't pull the trigger, unwilling to part with his young right-hander. The decision is widely scrutinized as Santana eventually goes to the crosstown Mets.
- With the shadow of Santana looming in Queens, Hughes suffers through a dreadful '08 season. After a winless April, he goes down with a fractured rib. He returns to the club with some success in September, but his season is labeled a bust.
- Hughes excels in winter ball and performs well in spring training, but begins the 2009 season at Triple-A nonetheless. He is called back up to replace an injured Chien-Ming Wang on Apr. 28 and makes five starts before joining the bullpen upon Wang's return.
- Using just two pitches out of the bullpen, Hughes dominates, becoming one of Joe Girardi's most trusted relievers. Since June 8, Hughes has allowed two earned runs over 18-1/3 innings with 19 strikeouts. By the All-Star break, he had become a primary set-up man to Mariano Rivera.
Who said pitching in New York was like being under a microscope?