Following an up and down season in 2012, New York Yankees starter Phil Hughes now enters 2013 looking to stay healthy and consistent, a plan that Hughes believes will help him reach his full potential.
"It may sound clichéd, or simple, or whatever you want to call it," Hughes said. "But I feel like if I can make every start I'm given, 30-plus, and have a little bit better consistency than I did last year, I think all the other goals or statistics will fall into place."
Hughes, 26, is now entering his seventh season with the Yankees, but his tenure in the Bronx could be coming to an end as the veteran right-hander will become a free agent following the season. Though the Yankees have not shown any interest in re-signing Hughes as of yet, he understands the process the Yankees take.
"Coming up with this organization as a pitcher, you know you're not going to be signed long-term before (free agency)," said Hughes. "Nobody tells you. You just know. No pitcher is getting a long-term deal before free agency."
To convince the Yankees that he's worth a long-term deal, Hughes will need to show the potential that made him a first round pick nine years ago, as the Yankees are no longer willing to spend their money as freely as they once did.
The Yankees are now focused on lowering the team's payroll under $189 million by 2014, so they could let Hughes walk if they believe his spot in the starting rotation can be replaced by a younger player.
In 2012, Hughes was 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA in 32 starts. He won a career-high 18 games in 2010.
Whether Hughes will re-sign with the Yankees or find a new team on the free agent market next winter, he is entering the prime of his career and the most important year of his career while looking to cash in. The time is now for Phil Hughes.
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