Phil Hughes was scheduled to make a rehab start Saturday after opening the season on the disabled list with a bulging disc in his back, but the Yankees announced after Friday’s game that he’ll be activated to start against the Tigers instead.
David Phelps will return to the pen to make room for Hughes in the rotation. Adam Warren presumably will be sent down.
It’s reasonable to suspect that this was the Yankees’ plan all along, and that they just stashed Hughes on the DL so that they could carry an extra reliever in the first four games of the season (players who start the season on the DL only have to stay there for five days, assuming they didn’t take part in any games the last 10 days of the spring).
Still, if that’s the case, the Yankees did cover their tracks really well. According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News’, Hughes’ bags were already checked in for a flight to Newark when he got the word he was going to Detroit instead.
Hughes never got into a Grapefruit League game this spring after being diagnosed with the bulging disc in February. He went 16-13 with a 4.19 ERA for the Yankees last year.
The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.
Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”
Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.
Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.