Phil Hughes suffered "a setback'' while throwing a bullpen session Monday afternoon and will be shut down for a few days while the New York Yankees try to determine what to do next with their 24-year-old right-hander.
Hughes, who has suffered a mysterious loss of velocity in his fastball throughout spring training and his first three starts this season, described the feeling as "just a lot of deadness" in the area of his right shoulder and bicep. He cut short his throwing session after approximately 20 pitches after telling pitching coach Larry Rothschild, "It felt like I just had nothing there."
Hughes was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 15 with what the team has described as "right shoulder inflammation'' after allowing 16 earned runs in 10-1/3 innings over three short starts in which he rarely broke 90 mph on the radar gun.
"The fact that there's no sharp pain and there's nothing that he can really draw a connection to is probably a good thing, but a bad thing is we're not progressing at all," Rothschild said. "I always have a level of concern but there's not much you can do until you know more or see where he is the next couple of days and go from there."
At first, the Yankees and Hughes blamed his lack of velocity on a lack of arm strength, and prescribed long tossing and bullpen sessions to restore strength before sending him to make an undetermined number of rehab starts in the minor leagues.
The right-hander saw team doctor Christopher Ahmad on Monday night and manager Joe Girardi said after the 2-0 loss to the White Sox that Hughes will have tests Tuesday.
Girardi described Hughes' session Monday as "not good. It just didn't bounce back like we thought it would. He said he just felt like nothing was coming out. Every step he had taken had been positive up to this point. And now this is a setback."
Hughes and Girardi have insisted all along that the righty, who won 18 games last year in his first full season as a starting pitcher, was not experiencing any significant pain in his arm or shoulder.
Asked Monday to describe what he was feeling, Hughes said, "It's like if someone hits you in the thigh really hard, and after that it's just numb. It's the kind of feeling you usually get after throwing 110-115 pitches, and it's normal to feel that way. But this is way too soon. It's discouraging."