Just Tell Me What’s Wrong Already

Phil Hughes went to the vascular specialist and as it turns out, he’s all clear. That’s good news no doubt as a positive diagnosis looked like it would be surgery and the rest of the season down the tubes. A negative test for thoracic outlet syndrome is definitely a good thing. The other side of the coin is now we still have no idea what’s wrong with Phil.

The Yankees will proceed with another arm strengthening program in the hopes Hughes can regain some of his missing velocity. They’ve already tried this of course and it just didn’t work which culminated with them ordering long overdue MRIs for Hughes. So after seeing a specialist when he slightly tested positive for thoracic outlet syndrome we’re now back at square one.

Which totally terrifies me.

My biggest fear in all this is not knowing what’s wrong at all. I can’t imagine a more troubling scenario- he’s a 24 year old pitcher, who should be in the physical prime of his life, suddenly loses his velocity and ability to throw strikes. That start he made against the Red Sox in Boston is seared into my mind- it was like a bad Javy Vazquez flashback from 2010. Sully McGintty in row 47, on his 47th beer could have made decent contact against him that day. This isn’t supposed to be happening to a 24 year old kid.

Look, I hope this arm strengthening program works. I hope that Hughes comes back and finds his velocity, makes some rehab starts and maybe we’ll see him late June and we forget all about this. I’m not laying down any money of that though. The most terrifying possibility, although probably most unlikely (I hope) is that it’s just gone- something happened and he can never recover that velocity again. Again, that’s unlikely I think. 24 year olds generally just don’t lose velocity out of nowhere without something being actually wrong. So if something is actually wrong, what could it be? As crazy as it is, part of me wishes that the vascular specialist had said, “Yes, we’ve found the root of the problem, with so and so procedures we can start to move forward”. I’m uncomfortable “wishing” a medical diagnosis on someone like that, especially considering my own medical history. At least if we knew definitively what was wrong though we could start moving forward.

Because right now Hughes and the Yankees are stuck in neutral back at square one.

One thought on “Just Tell Me What’s Wrong Already

  1. Like everyone else, I would feel better if I knew exactly what was wrong with him and that there was a program/treatment that we could all feel confident would correct his issues with a known timetable for recovery. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

    Until I hear otherwise though, I’m just assuming that this is some combination of the Verducci effect of the large jump in innings, and a natural tendency of velocity to be lower earlier in the season before the weather heats up and his arm strength improves (combined perhaps with poor preparation by Hughes).

    I was just reading an article about Justin Verlander’s 2008 season in which his ERA jumped into the high 4’s and he lost 18 games. He lost a few mph on his fastball and he complained about a dead arm. The wheels didn’t completely fall off for Verlander in part because he threw a lot harder to begin and had better secondary offerings. Hughes has a much smaller margin for error.

    If I try to look at the bright side, I am hopeful that Hughes can gain a few mph and find a way to pitch through this and contribute. Maybe it will force him to work on his secondary pitches and he’ll be a better pitcher when the fastball does return. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t return eventually but it might not be this season.