Come February, Phil Hughes may be in the best shape of his life

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Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York notes that the Yankees weren’t pleased with Phil Hughes conditioning last year and are heartened that he appears to be taking steps to correct that heading into 2012:

Phil Hughes didn’t show up to spring training grossly overweight last February, but he’d packed on enough pounds to end up in what the New York Yankees call “fat camp.” It is for players who need to up their conditioning a bit to ready themselves for the season. With 2012 spring training now less than 100 days away, Hughes is reverting to the workout program that preceded his All-Star 2010 season, which makes Yankees GM Brian Cashman think an uptick in Hughes’ performance will follow.

So I presume that we’ll see some “Phil Hughes is in the best shape of his life stories this spring.  Which is fine.  Of course if people think that conditioning, as opposed to other physical problems, was his biggest issue in the first half of the season, well, whatever.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.