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Phil Hughes may not be ready for the start of the season

Feb 27, 2013, 7:08 PM EDT

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Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his upper back early last week and hasn’t made a whole lot of progress in the days since. Which prompted manager Joe Girardi to tell Byran Hoch of MLB.com this afternoon that “it’s possible” Hughes won’t be on the active roster when the 2013 regular season gets underway.

Hughes also dealt with back issues last year in the postseason and the Yankees don’t want to rush him into Grapefruit League games for fear that they might make the injury worse than it already is.

The Yankees could go a few different directions if they need some starts covered in early April. Signing a veteran off the scrapheap who is willing to spend most of the summer with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre might be a good idea. Roy Oswalt, Dallas Braden and Carlos Zambrano are among the available options. Derek Lowe also remains unsigned.

Or the Yankees could opt to move David Phelps from the bullpen to the rotation for a bit.

Hughes, 26, posted a 4.23 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 7.8 K/9 across 191 1/3 innings last season.

  1. missingdiz - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Roy Oswalt is not going to spend the summer in Scranton/Whatever. Carlos Zambrano, on the other hand, is completely unpredictable–if only he would sign with the Yankees! What fun for the whole nation (I mean America, but I guess Red Sox nation would be glad too)–maybe they could bring in Ozzie as a coach.

  2. dondbaseball - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    Sabithia, Kuroda, pettitte, Nova, Phelps. Am I missing something?

    • jwbiii - Feb 27, 2013 at 10:52 PM

      Possibly Pineda.

    • bigharold - Feb 27, 2013 at 11:35 PM

      “Am I missing something?”

      Nope. The Yankees won’t need 5 starters, .. assuming Hughes is the 5th starter, .. until mid late April.

  3. pisano - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Hughes has back problems….. what else is new?

  4. cackalackyank - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    Nova pitched his way off the roster for the post-season, and he has been the pitcher to benefit most from the Yankees high scoring potential. Even Girardi has admitted that scoring runs is not going to come quite as easily as previous seasons, and that was before they lost Granderson for @ the first 6 weeks of the season. Phelps has relatively little experience starting, but since Nova or Phelps would be the # five, and some teams actually don’t use the fifth starter until may when there are fewer off days, it might work out. The wild card here is actually how well Sabathia recovers from the elbow surgery he had to remove a bone spur. If both Sabathia and Hughes have issues then picking through the starters boneyard might make some sense, because the other two starters, Kuroda and Pettitte, are a combined 79 years old.

  5. yankeepunk3000 - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    exactly I’m sure Phelps and move can do fine as the #4 and 5 respectavly. wait to see how long Hughes takes to get better before making a pointless signing when we can go ahead with our young arms. Hell even if needed give Bentances a chance to start. why not

  6. thebadguyswon - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    What a flop Phil Hughes has been.

    • uyf1950 - Feb 28, 2013 at 12:26 AM

      John Lackey and Dice K have been flops with Boston. Phil Hughes was a disappointment in the second half of 2010 and the 2011 season, but he bounced back in 2012 with nearly 20 quality starts. Considering he’s only 26 years old and only been a full time starter 3 years saying he’s been a flop is a gross exaggeration.

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM

        I’m coming at it from the days when he was a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. He’s been ok, but remember when people thought he’d be a frontline guy? I guess disappointment would have been a better word.

  7. stex52 - Feb 27, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    Top five looks pretty solid, but where’s the depth? Kuroda and Pettitte are older; Sabathia coming off surgery. You’ll need a couple more.

  8. cackalackyank - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    The depth, would/should be either Nova or Phelps (whichever didn’t make the rotation) and maybe Pineda after June 30. Also there is the group of guys like Warren, Rondon and other Non roster or Minor league types. Of course if anyone besides Hughes is not ready for opening day then that “depth” will become much more of a question mark.

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