No one had any idea something was wrong with Phil Hughes. But when he shockingly left the game in the seventh inning, you had to suspect something was wrong. And it was.
Hughes could not pinpoint the origin of his shoulder fatigue. All he knows is that it has been there four about four starts, he said. So, after his 75th pitch on Tuesday, Twins manager Paul Molitor pushed the button on the bullpen.
``The last three outings (he) hasn't consumed a lot of pitches,'' Molitor said. ``So he got a little extended tonight for the first time in awhile. So we tried to be a little cautious.''
You all know how the bullpen has been going these days. And you saw what happened.
Back to Hughes. I asked him if a DL stint has even been discussed, and he said no.
``Nothing like that,'' he said.
Because he was knocked out of his last three starts fairly early, it hasn't been an issue. But now it's a tricky issue if he is going to pitch like he did on Tuesday. He said getting up and warming up for innings takes its toll.
``It's one thing for me to go out there and control it and back off a little bit so I can get deeper in the game,'' Hughes said. the other side is that I'm not going out with my best stuff. It's something I have to address between starts. It's not like I can go out there and expect to grind through. These games matter and we have to go out and try to find a way to win some, so I can't grind through the seventh inning.''
Everyone appears to be on board with Hughes remaining in the rotation while working through his issues. But it hampers the Twins. It hampers the bullpen. I believe there's no way the Twins would pitch Hughes if it wasn't safe enough. But it's a strange stance for a club that usually errs on the side of caution.
``He's going to keep trying to get stronger and find ways to hopefully stay put there and take his turn,'' Molitor said. ``We're just having trouble getting a large amount of pitches which you would like to see from your starter. If he can get in the seventh inning and be efficient like he was tonight, you can deal with that.''
I leave you with a question: What else can happen with this team?
See you in a few hours from Comerica Park.