Barry Zito is healthy, but Giants might not let him start again

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Barry Zito is healthy and on track to take his next turn in the rotation Sunday, but the Giants may not let him make the start after coughing up six runs in seven innings his last time out.

San Francisco has “to be announced” listed as Sunday’s scheduled starter and manager Bruce Bochy explained that “we’re leaving it open for now” when asked about Zito’s status.

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News notes that there are no other options to start on the current roster, as Jonathan Sanchez just threw six innings at Triple-A and the other starter candidates won’t be fully rested. He speculates that the Giants could call up 23-year-old prospect Eric Surkamp from Double-A, with Zito being moved to the bullpen for the final two months.

Under normal circumstances it might be natural to speculate about Zito being traded, but if the Giants could have traded him without eating a huge portion of the $46 million he’s owed between 2012 and 2013 they would have done so a long time ago. Zito has a 5.24 ERA in eight starts overall this year after going 1-8 with a 6.14 ERA during the final two months of last season.

Twins designate Phil Hughes for assignment

AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.

Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.

Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.

Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.