BRADENTON, Fla. -- In the next few days, we'll have a story on Jared Hughes appear in the Post-Gazette. For the most part, it's written.
But there are a lot of interesting elements of Hughes' offseason -- and the end of his 2012 season -- that didn't make the cut but are nonetheless important.
Several months removed from his highly publicized encounter with Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, Hughes said he has moved past that incident. For the record, video supports Hughes' assertion that he did not make any type of racially motivated comment toward Phillips. And knowing Hughes, I believe him.
But the situation was difficult for him to deal with -- as it would be for anybody.
"Sometimes, you’re going to be put in situations you don’t necessarily deserve," Hughes said. "It’s not always fair, but you have to be able to deal and you have to be able to overcome those obstacles."
The entire situation was a learning experience for Hughes. He learned he had great support from his teammates. And he earned a lot of respect among the coaching staff for the way he handled it.
One offseason removed from the incident, Hughes said he doesn't think about it anymore.
"I think I’m over it, honestly," he said. "That’s something that’s in the past. If I harp on it, no good will come of that."
Sometimes, it's easy to forget this is only the second major league camp for Hughes. He started the 2011 season in Class AA Altoona. There, he didn't really excel, posting a 4.05 ERA.
Somehow, he said, he got a chance in Class AAA Indianapolis. And he made the most of it.
He entered 2012 spring training as an outside shot to make the major league roster. And, just as he did the year before, he made the most of it. Now, he will be one of a couple pitchers who will pitch in late-innings situations.
A point of emphasis for Hughes this season will be pitching inside, especially to left-handed hitters.
"I’m going to establish the inner part of the plate," he said.
And, one other thing Hughes says to look for this next season: "October and November baseball."
- Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Pirates
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