Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hughes, Jimenez square off in first 2016 starts

When Twins right-hander Phil Hughes makes his first start of the year against the Orioles on Thursday, he'll have his trusty glove he's used in every outing since 2008, his second year in the Majors. But recently, it underwent what he called surgery, as closer Glen Perkins accidentally broke the webbing of the glove while playing catch with Hughes in the last week of Spring Training. But the glove is ready, and so is Hughes, who will be facing off against Baltimore right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez in the series finale at Camden Yards.
"It's not good luck at all; it's seen some bad years, but it's just a glove I like," Hughes said with a laugh. "I just have the one glove and like the way it's been broken in."
Things to know about the game
• After a career-year in 2014, when Hughes had a 3.52 ERA in a 209 2/3 innings, the right-hander couldn't back it up last year, posting a 4.40 ERA in 155 1/3 innings. He dealt with back problems late in the season and couldn't quite regain his velocity from the prior year. But Hughes lost 15 pounds this offseason and he feels the best he has since '14.
"My conditioning was the biggest thing and I came to spring feeling better, so hopefully that translates to me being healthy," Hughes said. "I hope that sets me up to that this year. And other than that, it's about fastball command."
• Jimenez gets the nod for Baltimore, and was better in 2015 than his first year with the Orioles, going 12-10 with a 4.11 ERA in 184 innings. But he was much better in the first half, with a 2.81 ERA in his first 17 starts, but a 5.63 ERA in his final 15 outings.
• Orioles Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard has impressed so far in the early going, as he picked up two hits in his debut on Monday and followed that up with his first RBI with a sacrifice fly on Wednesday. The left fielder also had a single to right in his first at-bat.

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