- The way Chien-Ming Wang has pitched lately, Phil Hughes could tell what was likely to happen. The Yankees made it official Wednesday, announcing that Wang would return to the rotation Thursday, with Hughes shifting to relief.
Manager Joe Girardi said he would not be afraid to use Hughes at any point in a game, though General Manager Brian Cashman suggested Hughes's stay in relief will be temporary, perhaps until Brian Bruney returns from an elbow injury.
"It's one of those 'What are you waiting for now?' things,” Cashman said. "It's time to find a time to slot him in. He's shown everything he's needed to show. If you wait any longer, you'd probably start going down the other side of the mountain, which is disillusionment and those kinds of things."
Wang said he was throwing as hard, and with as much bite on his sinker, as he was before tearing a tendon in his foot last June. He said he was happy to be starting again, and Cashman sounded thrilled to have the kind of depth in the rotation the Yankees lacked last season.
This season, almost exactly a third of the way through, only six Yankees have started. I suspect that Cashman would love to keep it that way. Particularly if all six are pitching well.
As for elevating Wang above Hughes, it's hard to argue with the move. Wang's career stats entering this season included 54 wins, 20 losses, and a 3.79 ERA. If you think he's back to his old self, you have to give him as many innings as convention allows. Especially if he's been working hard and you've promised him a return to his old role (which I think is what Cashman's getting at when he mentions "disillusionment and those kinds of things").
Philip Hughes turns 23 in a few weeks. He'll get his shot.