DETROIT -- New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes got a clean bill of health Monday from a vascular specialist who tested him for thoracic outlet syndrome, a circulatory problem that has derailed the careers of several major league pitchers.
The announcement was made by a team spokesman in the press box of Comerica Park in the third inning of Monday night's Yankees-Tigers game. No further details were available, but the Yankees did say Hughes will be returning to New York.
Hughes, 24, has been hit hard this season after suffering a mysterious loss of velocity that began in spring training and persisted through his first three starts of the regular season. He was 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA when the Yankees placed him on the 15-day disabled list on April 15, with what they called a "dead arm."
The Yankees tried to rehabilitate Hughes with rest -- he did not throw for 10 days -- and shut him down indefinitely on April 25 after a long-toss session that did not go well.
"I just felt like I had nothing there," Hughes said.
The Yankees sent Hughes for a battery of tests, including two MRIs and a vascular doppler test, which showed "a slight positive that might imply thoracic outlet syndrome," according to general manager Brian Cashman.
Several pitchers, including Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman, Matt Harrison and Aaron Cook have had the problem, with varying degrees of success recovering from it. Harrison, Cook and Rogers returned after having surgery to correct the condition, which involves the removal of a rib to improve blood flow to the arm, but Bonderman was never the same and is now out of baseball.
"We certainly hope [Hughes] doesn't have it," manager Joe Girardi said last week, and it appears his hopes, and those of the Yankees, have been realized.
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.