A lot of pressure on a 21 year old kid. Not only is Phil Hughes being asked to pitch on the major league level, onto his shoulders has been thrust the pressure of holding down the 3 spot in the pitching rotation of the New York Yankees. Does he have the talent and make-up to do it? Unquestionably, as we saw glimpses of what his potential is several times both early and late in the 2008 season. We also were reminded at times that he is, in fact, only 21, when he nibbled, didn't quite trust his stuff, and found himself at 75 pitches through 3 innings on more than one occasion.
There have also been some rumblings over the past few years about his dedication to his conditioning-and his too frequent muscle strains lend creedence. That's why it was nice to hear that Hughes was the first pitcher to report to Tampa this spring-a full 2 weeks earlier than the mandatory reporting date. It seems the 21 year old understands what the Yankees need from him, and lack of preparation will not be the reason if he fails to deliver. We know he has the stuff. Tonight we begin to find out what he's going to contribute to the 2008 Yankees. Personally, I can't wait.
MLB.com previews his '08 debut