Report: Yankees say Hughes off-limits for Olympics

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees won't allow top pitching prospect Phil Hughes to play for the U.S. Olympic team in qualifying next month, Team USA general manager Bob Watson told The New York Times.

Hughes is "basically off limits," Watson told the newspaper for a story published Wednesday. Watson said the Yankees wouldn't make the Double-A right-hander available for a qualifying tournament for the 2008 Beijing Games.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that Watson was told by a "high-ranking official from the Yankees" to stay away from Hughes, who plays for Trenton of the Eastern League.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman, however, said Watson sought permission to have only infielder Nick Green and reliever J.B. Cox included for the U.S. team's preliminary 60-man roster.

"No one ever asked us about Phil Hughes," Cashman told the Times. "They asked about one pitcher, and it wasn't Hughes.

"For anyone to imply that we didn't cooperate with central
baseball, it's false."

The 20-year-old Hughes is considered the best pitching prospect in the Yankees' farm system.