Phil Hughes disappointed, but understands demotion

Phil Hughes takes a moment to reflect before Phil Hughes takes a moment to reflect before the start of a game against the Chicago White Sox. (Sept. 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Tim Farrell

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Phil Hughes pitched well out of the bullpen in pressure spots during the Yankees' championship season of 2009. The demoted starter isn't sure if he is going to get the same opportunity this time.

"The bullpen's been great this year," Hughes, who was informed of his removal from the starting rotation on Tuesday, said Wednesday. "I feel like the back end of our bullpen's pretty set up. Obviously, I'm not hoping any one of our starters has a short start. So if the formula goes to plan, I don't really see myself in that mix. But obviously that means we're winning ballgames. That's the most important part."

Hughes, who is 4-13 with a 4.86 ERA, will be replaced on Saturday by lefthander David Huff. Hughes, a free agent at season's end, said he understood the Yankees' reasoning. "Huff's been throwing the ball extremely well," Hughes said. "And I haven't. All year . . . I wouldn't say I was blindsided. I was disappointed and surprised."

In 2009, Hughes was 5-1 with a 1.40 ERA in 44 games out of the bullpen. But with Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Preston Clairborne ahead of him on the righthanded depth chart, even manager Joe Girardi isn't sure how -- or if -- he's going to use Hughes.

"I could use him as short or long," Girardi said. "We'll see."

Hughes said he isn't thinking about how his poor season will affect his impending free agency.

"I haven't had time to think about it," he said. "It's kind of one of those things I'll worry about when the year is over and see where we're at."

 

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