Yesterday it was speculated that last night would be Phil Hughes’ last start and that, when the Yankees get off this six-man rotation thing, he’d be the odd man out, bullpen-bound.
Now what happens?
As we noted in the recaps, Hughes had a fine game. He shut out the White Sox over six innings, needing only 65 pitches, 48 of which were strikes. He hit 95 on the gun in the first inning and then settled into a 91-94 groove — averaging 92.5 — which is where he was during his effective 2010 season.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that Paul Konerko wasn’t in the White Sox’ lineup and, overall, the Sox have not been great on offense for the past week or so. Or, to be honest, for the whole year, really. They’re near the bottom in runs per game in the AL despite playing in a hitter friendly park.
Does he get another turn? Or does Joe Girardi take that first inning heat and decide that it’s highest and best use for the remainder of the year is for short relief appearances?
This is why managing is harder than we tend to think it is.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.