But Hughes has had no choice over the past two years other than to endure the slow process of healing while most of his peers have been out on the baseball diamond having a good time.
Hughes spent part of Sunday morning with his right rib cage packed in a bag of ice. At the same time, teammate Darrell Rasner was prepping to make his first start of the season after being called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take the place of Hughes on the Yankees' roster.
Hughes fractured his ninth rib this week, and he still isn't certain how he did it. Last year, he spent much down time mending from injuries to his left hamstring and left ankle.
It hasn't been easy for a 21-year-old who is raring to get his career up to a full head of steam.
"It's tough not being able to go out there," Hughes said. "This is the second year in a row I've had something set me back. It's tough, especially when you are in a situation where you can't do anything about it.
"You try to take as many positives out of it as you can by doing things to get yourself up mentally, or to learn good patience. You have to keep the injury in the background. Otherwise, you are going to drive yourself nuts."
Hughes arrives at the stadium early to get treatment and spends most of his mornings before day games with trainers. In the third inning, he leaves the dugout for the trainer's room to get more ice, and then he's done for the day.
Hughes hopes to be able to start riding a stationary bike in about a week and possibly begin to work out on a treadmill. It will be at least a month before he's able to get up to full speed.
"Right now, there's not much you can do, because you don't want to put stress on the area," said Hughes, who feels pain only when he makes an awkward move or reaches for something that puts stress on his rib cage.
Hughes said he eats a healthy diet even under normal circumstances, so he's not tempted to swerve his car into the drive-through at some fast-food franchise.
"That's a key for anybody, especially when you can't do very much physically," Hughes said.
Hughes said he has been catching up on his movies-to-watch list. He has most recently seen "American Gangster" and "Juno." He's also doing some reading and watching some television.
And he considers himself fortunate that he has his girlfriend and her brother visiting from out of town.
"That has been nice," Hughes said. "With all that time sitting at home thinking about all the things that have gone wrong, that helps a lot."
Kit Stier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less