Despite the optimistic talk surrounding Phil Hughes and his ailing back, the rest of his season is in doubt. Hughes was scratched from his scheduled start yesterday and was sent for an MRI exam.
The MRI revealed that what the Yankees had suspected was back spasms was actually inflammation from a herniated disk first suffered back in 2004. After the MRI, he was administered an epidural. Hughes first felt sore after his bullpen session in Toronto.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman remained optimistic, but remained realistic as well. He understands that there is a chance Hughes could be shut down.
Cashman added that the club's mindset is that he will return, possibly as soon as this weekend. What has not been decided is where he will pitch upon his return.
I would assume that if Hughes does return, he will pitch out of the bullpen. Despite his down season, Hughes has experience in the bullpen and has proven to be a viable option there. His 2011 season has been a disappointment, but if he returns, maybe he can find some of his bullpen success from 2009.