By Sweeny Murti
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I guess it’s not that much of a stretch at this stage to call The Curious Case of Phil Hughes an episode of “House.” Brian Cashman referenced the TV medical drama in discussing the latest on Hughes, which is still nothing, except that Hughes is headed to a specialist in St. Louis on Monday.
The initial indication announced late Wednesday night is that Hughes MIGHT have something called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. If you’re not doctor, here’s a crash course on TOS.
Let’s be clear about this–the Yankees and their doctors are not certain this is what’s bothering Hughes. His tests simply indicated this as a possibility, so that’s why he’s going to St. Louis to see one of the leading specialists in the field. Cashman explains here:
So until we find out exactly what’s wrong with Phil Hughes, he’s just not part of this team in 2011. That’s not to say he’s done for the year. It’s just a matter of sizing up this team until you know he can come back or not.
In May 1996 David Cone had surgery for an aneurysm, and at that time there was doubt about his return to pitch that season. Cone did return in September, pitched 7 no-hit innings in his first game back, and went on to help the Yankees win the World Series.
Could Phil Hughes be back for the Yankees this season? Of course he could. But until someone tells us exactly what’s wrong with him, it’s hard to say when he’ll be back.
In 1996 Joe Girardi was Cone’s teammate. I asked Girardi, even though Hughes’s resume isn’t as complete as Cone’s was at the time, what kind of resolve it takes for a group of players to overcome the loss of a pitcher considered so vital to that team’s success:
So far, Bartolo Colon has picked up where Doc Gooden did for those ’96 Yankees. Gooden threw a no-hitter within days of Cone’s trip to the operating room and picked up the slack during that summer. Colon threw 8 innings of 1-run ball Wednesday night to win his second straight start since taking Hughes’s spot in the rotation.
What happens next in this episode of “House”? You’ll have to tune in again next week.