Yankees to skip Phil Hughes' start

Updated: September 9, 2010, 5:51 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

Phil Hughes' turn in the New York Yankees starting rotation will be skipped this weekend in Texas in conjunction with the innings limit the team has placed upon the 24-year-old starter.

Hughes (16-7, 4.29 ERA) has pitched 155 1/3 innings so far this year and is believed to be on a 175-inning regular-season limit, a number the Yankees have refused to make public.

But it is expected that Hughes will make his final three starts of the season, beginning next Wednesday in Tampa, and at an average of six innings per start would finish up just below the 175 innings threshold.

Then, the Yankees have said Hughes' odometer would rest for the postseason.

"I had a feeling this was coming," a mildly disappointed Hughes said at his locker before Wednesday afternoon's Yankees-Orioles game. "I wasn't 100 percent sold it was coming but I knew it was a possibility, so it's not really a surprise."

Still, Hughes, who was also skipped just before the All-Star break, did not seem thrilled with either the decision or the timing. "I usually pitch pretty decent in Texas, so I'm kinda mad that I get skipped out of that start," he said with a laugh.

Hughes has never been beaten at The Ballpark in Arlington, nor has he even allowed a run. He is 2-0 in two starts with a 0.00 ERA in 14 1/3 innings pitched there. In fact, it was there as a rookie that Hughes took a no-hitter into the seventh inning only to leave with a hamstring pull -- suffered while pitching to future teammate Mark Teixeira -- an injury that cost him three months of the season.

On Sunday, Dustin Moseley will start in Hughes' place, drawing the unenviable task of facing the Rangers' ace, Cliff Lee.

"I don't think any starter likes to get skipped," manager Joe Girardi said. "But when I told him, he just said, 'OK.' That's about all the emotion you get out of Hughsie."

"There's nothing I could say, so it's not worth the fight," Hughes said. "They have a plan in mind and it's kinda what they're going to do. I don't really have a say in it, so I just kinda deal with it."

Hughes isn't the only Yankees pitcher taking a seat. Girardi confirmed Wednesday morning what has been obvious for quite some time now: Neither Alfredo Aceves nor Damaso Marte will be seen in a Yankee uniform again this season.

Aceves, on the disabled list since May 12 with what is officially termed a "strained lower back," has been shut down and was being evaluated by a back specialist this morning, with surgery a possibility.

And Marte, who went on the DL on July 17 with left shoulder inflammation, hasn't thrown a pitch since and said, "It feels bad."

Hughes started the season extremely well, his record 10-1 and ERA 3.17 after beating the Mets on June 19. But since then, he has gone 6-6 and his ERA has risen by more than a run.

Two of his most recent three starts were probably his worst of the season. On Aug. 25, he couldn't make it out of the fourth inning against the Blue Jays, allowing five earned runs, and on Sunday, he was shelled by Toronto again, surrendering six runs, and three homers, in six innings.

Asked if, at this point in his first season as a full-time starter, he felt as if he needed a break, Hughes said, "No. Simple answer."

He's getting one Sunday in Texas, whether he likes it or not.

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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