Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Real Hughes Stands Up?

Phil Hughes threw a bullpen session Friday and, according to Pete Abraham, is beginning to get his mojo back. Not to imply Hughes pitched poorly in 2007, but it was obvious he was relying more on guile and guts than the electric stuff he is known for.

Pitching through such difficulties and facing adversity will only improve his pitching acumen - as well as provide an experience for the 21 year-old to reference during any future struggles.
Watched Phil Hughes throw and was impressed with his fastball. After his leg injury in May, he said his heater was 91-92 instead of the usual 93-95 it is. “It wasn’t until the playoffs when I felt complete confidence in my leg,” he said. “That was when I got my fastball back.”

Hughes said it’s not so much velocity that he counts on. It’s more the “late life” when he can throw harder. “You need your legs to follow throw and get that little extra on the pitch,” he said. “I wasn’t getting that.”

Jorge Posada caught Hughes and was impressed. On his last few pitches, Posada was yelling “Nice pitch!” back to the mound.

Meanwhile, Hughes has his locker moved. It was Mike Mussina’s idea. He wanted Hughes on one side and Ian Kennedy on the other so he talk to the kids all spring.

The Hughes who I've seen dominate hitters at the minor league level - and a Texas Rangers lineup at the major league level - before succumbing to a hamstring strain is a totally different animal than the one who appeared in the Summer of 2007. The life on his fastball - and curveball - did not seem to return to Hughesian levels until September, and possibly even the playoff series against Cleveland.

Abraham also described his 1st class view of Hughes tossing a bullpen, noting "the ball was almost never right over the plate, it was hard and down on the corners."

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