Battle Tested

October 9, 2010 – Phil Hughes entered spring training amid a
four-person competition for the fifth spot in the Yankees starting rotation.
Hughes pitched well enough in spring competition to win the job, and he
certainly made the most of it, winning 18 games and earning a trip to the 2010
All-Star Game.

Last season, Hughes solidified a shaky bullpen and became an
eighth inning dominator. Hughes shortened games last year, and that went a long
way in the Yankees’ ability to come from behind to win the AL East.

Hughes struggled at times during the 2009 postseason, and
several New York City journalists (and fans) questioned whether the Phil Hughes
of the 2009 and 2010 regular seasons or Phil Hughes of the 2009 postseason will
show up tonight.

In my opinion, the Phil Hughes of the 2010 regular season
will be in the house tonight, and here’s why…

Last October, Hughes, who had never pitched in the
postseason before that, came into crucial games in key spots. In those
late-game situations, there is no margin for error, and he needed time to
adjust to those conditions. I’m not making an excuse for him, but I am more
than optimistic that those experiences -although not all of them were good –
will benefit him tonight.

He looked relaxed before the game, and he is mentally ready
for the biggest start of his life.

–Alfred Santasiere III


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