Hughes follows up debut in Texas

Hughes follows up debut in Texas

Is he here to stay? That's the question surrounding phenom Phil Hughes. And what's known is that his Tuesday start in Texas could be pivotal.

Back for at least one more go-round in the Yankees rotation, Hughes takes the mound for the pinstripes with a shot at dumping his hot-prospect label and putting on a new title: true Major Leaguer. Not to mention the fact that he could earn the Yankees' first road victory since April 14 in Oakland.

The 20-year-old Hughes is asked once again to help turn things around for the Yankees, who have lost eight of their last nine games. And he might be the right person to do it.

Hughes showed little fright when he took on the Blue Jays last week in his Major League debut, and Yankees manager Joe Torre thinks that will carry over into his start against the Rangers.

"He certainly was aware of all the hitters," Torre said. "He wasn't clouded by the fact that he was excited."

Hughes equips himself with five pitches -- a two-seamer, four-seamer, slider, curveball and changeup -- all of which scouts have dubbed big-league pitches. This is evidenced by his overall Minor League numbers coming into the season: 21-7 with a 2.12 ERA.

Hughes' start against the Rangers, although important to his spot on the roster, was padded a bit when Jeff Karstens sustained a broken leg when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo on Saturday. Karstens' injury means that one fewer starter will compete for an every-fifth-day job. As Torre said, when one door closes, another one opens.

The Yankees' original plan was to keep Hughes in the Minor Leagues until the All-Star break, but injuries gave him an early shot at brining his 6-foot-5 frame to Yankee Stadium. News quickly spread when he got called up to the Yankees, and he's sure to get plenty of text messages and phone calls before his start in Texas. It probably won't amount to the 100 people -- including family, friends and beat reporters -- who called him after his promotion, but Hughes won't lack support.

And while Hughes' friends and family were happy for him when the flashbulbs snapped for his first pitch in the Major Leagues, one question lingered: Did Hughes feel that the Yankees brought him up too early?

"No, I mean, I feel like I've been ready to do this," Hughes said.

Well, ready or not, his second start is here. It comes against Rangers right-hander Kameron Loe, who is making his third start of the season after five relief appearances. He is 1-3 with a 7.62 ERA in four appearances against the Yankees.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Phil Hughes (0-1, 8.31 ERA)
Hughes tries to prove that he belongs in the Major Leagues after he lost his first start to the Blue Jays on Thursday. The right-handed phenom struck out five batters in 4 1/3 innings in his debut.

TEX: RHP Kameron Loe (1-1, 5.21 ERA)
Loe has jumped around a bit this season. He relieved on Opening Day, but five appearances later, the Rangers put him into the starting rotation. Pitching in Texas could be important for Loe, who has pitched better at home than on the road this season, compiling a 2.79 ERA in four games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Player to watch
Rangers center fielder Kenny Lofton has had his way with right-handed pitching this year, batting .311 with four extra-base hits. He's also stolen nine bases, while being caught only once.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES

On radio
• WCBS-AM 880 AM, WQBU-FM 92.7 FM (Espanol)

Up next
• Wednesday: New York (LHP Andy Pettitte, 1-1, 3.00) at Texas (RHP Robinson Tejeda, 3-1, 3.82), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: New York (RHP Mike Mussina, 0-1, 9.00) at Texas (RHP Kevin Millwood, 2-3, 5.88), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Seattle (RHP Cha Seung Baek, 0-0, 4.22) at New York (RHP Chien-Ming Wang, 0-2, 5.84), 7:05 p.m. ET

Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.