Best of 2007: Moment #14

Phil Hughes / Photo by Mike Ashmore

Moment #14 – Phil Hughes Rehab Appearances
July 13 and July 18, 2007
Trenton, NJ

It seemed as though the last time Thunder fans would get to see Phil Hughes at Waterfront Park would be his legendary 13 strikeout performance in Game One of the 2006 Eastern League Division Series.

Unfortunately for Hughes, that wasn’t the case.

Hughes injured his left hamstring in his second Major League game on May 1st against the Texas Rangers, a game in which he had carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before he was forced to leave.

Interestingly enough, Hughes joined a then relatively unknown Joba Chamberlain on the Thunder roster, something Chamberlain told me would be beneficial for him.

“I’m going to watch how he approaches hitters and how he works off of his fastball,” Chamberlain said.

“He’s got a great fastball, and as I continue to pitch, I want to be able to pitch off my fastball more, so I want to see how it makes his other pitches more effective.”

While with the Thunder in 2006, Hughes saw a seemingly endless stream of New York Yankees come through Trenton on rehab assignments, including Robinson Cano, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui and others.

But the shoe was on the other foot when Hughes came back to town in July.

So what was it like being on the other side of the fence?

“Not good, you never want to be the guy that’s hurt,” said Hughes, who threw 43 pitches in his first appearance.

“But it’s encouraging at the same time to be on the road back and kind of have that light at the end of the tunnel.”

Hughes, also rehabbing an ankle injury suffered while doing agility drills, struck out six batters against New Hampshire on July 13th, and then five more against the Binghamton Mets five days later, with both starts coming under heavy media attention. 

He made two more rehab starts for Scranton before going back to the big leagues for good.  He figures to be a prominent member of the Yankees starting rotation in 2008.

Recapping the Top 20 so far…

#14 – Phil Hughes rehab appearance
#15 – Tyler Clippard’s MLB debut
#16 – Brett Smith’s no-hitter
#17 – Chase Wright’s MLB debut
#18 – Chase Wright’s opening night start
#19 – Paul Lo Duca and Endy Chavez rehab in Trenton
#20 – Jeff Karstens rehab appearance

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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