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Phil Hughes Is Starting Today: Let's Turn This Negativity Around

Bronx Baseball DailySenior Analyst IApril 15, 2010

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Phil Hughes #65 of the New York Yankees poses for a photo during Spring Training Media Photo Day at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 25, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

I can’t believe how after winning back-to-back series against the Red Sox and Rays, then taking the opener against the Angels, one loss could affect Yankee fans so much.

Just for everyone’s information, this could be worse, a lot worse, just look at the Mets .

I’m not going to let some Yankee fans who are still upset about 2004 get me down though, because Phil Hughes , my favorite pitcher from 2009, is starting today. Yes, just two years after he was initially put in the Yankees rotation, Hughes is back on the job.

“I guess (I was) maybe not prepared in some ways,” Hughes said . “Really, that’s all I can point to for the reasons for those struggles. I’ve progressed to the point where I think I can be successful,” said Hughes. “It’s a lot more comforting knowing that.”

“I feel like not so many outside influences affect me now,” Hughes said. “My comfort level, my confidence level, have all greatly improved since then.”

Yes, he has grown up quite a bit since then. Instead of looking like a scared little kid on the mound, Hughes is older and more confident-looking. He’s got a season of success under his belt so we know he can get major league hitters out.

Now we just need to find out if his changeup is really all he and everyone else has made it out to be. If it is, there should be an easy transition from the bullpen to the rotation.

Stamina shouldn’t be an issue. Not only has he built up arm strength during spring training, but he’s made a pair of extended spring training starts. So, he is at the same level as everyone else in the rotation.

This doesn’t guarantee that Hughes is going to succeed right out of the gate. It does mean that, more than ever, he is prepared for this start. There is no longer any worry that he was rushed through the minors or that he is too young for the gig. Yes, he is young, but there is nothing more he can learn in the minors and he’s proven that.

From now on he’s a major leaguer, a major league starter, and there is a learning curve to go with that, but unlike 2008, his position is a lot more secure now.

To top it all off, the pressure on him has somewhat subsided. I think yesterday proved that there will be Yankee fans to boo any bad performance no matter what the context is. This time around, though, he is not green, he has already shown us what he can do, and an undue burden of the season is not on his shoulders.

What are your thoughts? Is Hughes ready? Did last year give you enough confidence in him or does he still have something to prove?

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