A couple Spring Trainings ago, it was the oblique. Last year, elbows were the problem. So far in 2013, the issue cropping up across camp in Tampa seems to be back issues. Second baseman David Adams, relief pitcher Mark Montgomery, and right-hander Phil Hughes have all come down with bad backs; the latter most now being expected to miss up to two weeks of Spring Training because of a bulging disc, according to Brian Cashman and Hughes himself. Hughes first began to notice the pain while covering first base during Pitcher's Fielding Practice drills, and seemed more optimistic than Cashman that he could get back to pitching in about a week. Hughes felt like he had been ahead of schedule so far, thanks to his offseason work, so he isn't too worried about the setback costing him precious preparation time.
The General Manager has taken a more conservative approach to estimating the time it will take for Hughes to return to the mound; expecting it to take closer to two weeks than Hughes' estimated one week. It's easy to understand why he'd be skeptical this early in the recovery process -- back injuries can linger and Hughes figures to be an important piece of the rotation puzzle in his contract year. Cashman does share Hughes' optimism that being sidelined won't put the pitcher too far behind the rest of the group, schedule-wise. After the round of anti-inflammatory medication, Phil will hopefully be set to get back out on the field. Someone better stock up on heating pads and Icy Hot for the rest of Spring Training, though, if the early injuries are an indication of 2013 being The Year of the Bum Back.