Wednesday, May 02, 2007

No-no becomes a big ‘Oh no’


Hughes allows no hits for 6 1/3 innings, then pulls hamstring


May 2, 2007

New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, right, waves for a trainer to come out to the mound and look at Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes in the seventh inning.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Yankees went from thrilled back to worry mode in a matter of minutes last night. One minute, they were watching rookie Phil Hughes throw a no-hitter in the seventh inning, and the next, they saw him leave the mound with a pulled left hamstring.

Hughes, in his second major-league start, had no-hit the Rangers through 6 1/3 innings. The Yankees were dominating en route to what would be a 10-1 win.

And Hughes was chasing history - eight outs away from becoming the youngest American League pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter. But with an 0-and-2 count on Mark Teixeira, Hughes tried to throw his curveball for a strikeout pitch and wound up pulling his hamstring.

"It's disappointing, definitely," Hughes said.

Hughes said he felt a "pop," and manager Joe Torre said he likely will need a minimum of 4-to-6 weeks on the disabled list.

Hughes is the fourth Yankee to pull or strain a hamstring since late March. Righthander Chien-Ming Wang strained his right hamstring March 23 and came off the disabled list April 24, outfielder Hideki Matsui spent 15 days on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, and righthander Mike Mussina strained his left hamstring April 11 and is set to come off the DL tomorrow.

"It seems like if it's not one thing, it's another," general manager Brian Cashman said. "We seem to be getting hit, it seems like every day."

The litany of injuries includes several arm injuries - Carl Pavano is on the DL with right forearm tightness and Jeff Karstens spent time on the DL with right elbow tendinitis. Karstens is now on the DL with a fractured right fibula. But the four hamstring injuries have led to concerns that there could be a common link. Possibilities are the new director of performance enhancement Marty Miller and assistant for performance enhancement Dana Cavalea.

"You get concerned about it, no doubt about it, and try to figure out if there's any connection," Cashman said. "Some are more so explainable than others, but obviously, we have to look into everything. I'm not saying, I can't tell you it's coming from the conditioning program at all, I can't tell you that. But you have to investigate every aspect at the same time, and I have done that. Up until this one, I felt like there were explanations for every one."

Mussina, asked about a possible connection to the new strength and conditioning staff, said: "I think that question's already been raised."

But has it been answered?

"I don't know if it's been answered, and I'm not going to be the one to answer it," Mussina said.

Phil Hughes pitches in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers.

The injury put a heavy damper on what had been a very positive night for the Yankees. Hughes, who allowed four earned runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings in his debut April 26, faced one batter more than the minimum while in the game. He walked three, but induced a double play on the next batter twice.

Hughes was speeding through the Rangers' lineup with first-pitch strikes and 53 of his 83 pitches were strikes.

"That's the best I've pitched and the best I've felt against the best hitters," Hughes said. "I felt really comfortable."

He was putting to rest any questions that he might not be ready for the major leagues.

The Yankees supported Hughes with plenty of offense against Rangers starter Kameron Loe. Robinson Cano was 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Jorge Posada was 3-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and three runs scored. Alex Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.

Before Hughes' injury, the team already believed he could go all the way. He was only at 83 pitches, and they had planned for him to throw 100.

The feeling, Torre said, was: "Like it was going to happen. That was the sense in the dugout. We didn't talk about it, but I think everybody couldn't wait for him to get out there again."

Now they will have to wait.

Injury epidemic

Rookie Phil Hughes is the latest Yankees starter to come up lame. He has plenty of company on the injury list.

Pitcher Injury Status

Mike Mussina Strained left hamstring Went on DL April 15

Carl Pavano Forearm stiffness Went on DL April 15

Jeff Karstens Fractured right fibula Went on DL April 29

Chien-Ming Wang Strained right hamstring Came off DL April 24

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