In his career, Phil Hughes has enjoyed a lot more success as a reliever than as a starter. As a starter he has a 4.90 ERA in 71 games, but as a reliever he has a 1.44 ERA in 49 games. The difference he said is the mentality he takes with him to the mound so this season Hughes is going to try to bring some of that reliever mentality with him into his starts.
“It’s something I tried to do early in the season in 2010,” Hughes told Mark Feinsand and Anthony McCarron of the NY Daily News. “Coming off the bullpen year, I took that reliever mentality with me to the mound. Larry (Rothschild) and I have talked about mound presence, that aggressive mindset. I’d like to continue that this year.”
At times last year, Hughes had no problem getting ahead of hitters, but once it came time to finish them off he could never figure out how to put them away.
“Whatever I was doing to have success, my stuff was a lot better and I was attacking the zone; having that reliever mindset and seeing how long I can go with it,” Hughes said. “I would like to carry over as much of the success I had this spring into the season, try to erase last year’s miseries. If I can have a 1-something ERA for a while, that would be nice.”
This season is huge for Hughes as he is getting more and more expensive and closing in on free agency. If he doesn’t put together a big year in 2012, the Yankees could decide that he is not in their future and either trade him or let him walk when it comes time. Luckily for him, he was very impressive in spring training and it looks like he’ll be given every chance to succeed this year.
“I knew that I still had the stuff,” Hughes said. “I felt really good at the end of the year, so I’ve been really looking forward to getting this season started. It’s nice to have a completely clean slate.”