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Thinking About Phil Hughes

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The boys (and girls) over at NoMaas  tackled a question that we discussed at the LoHud game in Scranton: is Phil Hughes injury prone?

July 2004 - Phil makes his first start as a future Yankee. He's shut down with elbow stiffness the next day. 
August 2004 - Phil breaks his toe running in the hallway of his hotel to answer his cell phone. 
June 2005 - To the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. 
2006 - A year to remember. Phil pitched 146 innings and avoided the DL. 
May 2007 - That damn hamstring. We blamed Marty Miller. 
May 2007 - Suffers a grade 3 ankle sprain during rehabilitation. Does anything scream injury prone like getting injured in rehab? 
May 2008 - Stress fracture to his rib. Still a mystery as to when and why that happened. 
May 2008 - Is nearsightedness an injury?

I guess they take a different perspective that I do- they add those up and vote "yes."  In their view, the bonus injuries while on rehab are especially damning.

I look at that list, at all that, and I can't help saying, "no I don't consider him injury prone yet."

The 2005 shoulder tendinitis  is the most worrisome injury since tendons never seem to heal properly and are always prone to relapse.  

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In 2007, I was watching that second start and I can't help thinking it was a freak injury like Jeter's dislocated shoulder in 2003.  If the mound was a little drier or wetter, if the other pitcher's landing spot had been different so the wear on the mound was at a different spot, if his spikes had caught at a different point in his motion...  I tend to give players a pass on in game injuries- it's the injuries warming up that alarm me, like Hughes' ankle sprain, because they often point to compensating for other problems.  Those compensations to pitching or hitting mechanics sap power from the fastball or the swing.

 

Which brings us to the current injury, a broken rib caused by the powerful torque Phil's motion places on his ribs.  Could Phil have prevented this injury?  Doing a ton more core work and drinking a lot of milk, perhaps, but it's not a given.

There's no denying that Hughes has suffered a string of injuries, but I'm not ready to say he's injury prone because there have been no recurrent injuries.  Maybe I put too much emphasis on reoccurring injuries because I grew up in a house where Mickey Mantle was regarded as a god whose powers were limited only by mortal knees; the first season I really followed the Yankees was the last for a Yankee Captain because of constant back pain, and I grew up watching Bernie Williams battle chronic shoulder injuries.

But Hughes needs his time to heal, and we'll have to deal with playing the innings cap game one more season.