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October 15, 2010

Phil Hughes


Q. Phil, as you review the Rangers lineup, what stands out for you as the opposing pitcher?
PHIL HUGHES: You know, you have got to be real careful, especially in this ballpark. They have a lot of power and they are aggressive on the base paths and you want to minimize that. For me, I just try to execute my game plan and attack the zone early and throw strikes.

Q. You've pitched a couple of games here that are pretty memorable, the near no-hitter shutout here last year; do you have a certain comfort level in this ballpark?
PHIL HUGHES: It's not a ton of, you know, experience here, just two starts. But I remember in those two starts, I feel pretty comfortable here. I'm not sure what it is, the ballpark, or what it is, but yeah, I mean, the two times that I have started here, I have felt pretty good.

Q. How much have you come to appreciate the defense that's played behind you and how much do you think you've helped the year that you've had?
PHIL HUGHES: Yeah, I mean, you kind of get spoiled sometimes, you know, with the defense that we play. You know, every ball that's put in play, you expect to be an out and that's a good feeling when you're out there knowing a guy on base, get an out and you get a double-play ball and they are going to execute that on defense. It's definitely a nice thing to have, and you don't really realize it going day-to-day but at the end of the year, it's like, wow, we committed the least amount of errors as a team. It's a pretty good thing to have, and it makes my job easier.

Q. In Spring Training, how far ahead did you let yourself think? Obviously you went into that having to win this spot, but did you think about that if this went as well as it could, that you would be in this situation?
PHIL HUGHES: Not at all. I just try to take it day-to-day. I came into Spring Training hoping to win that spot. After that, I was just looking forward to my next start and I really didn't think about the playoffs. I didn't think about the second half of the season. I just took it day-to-day, and you know, did my work and looked forward to my next start. It worked out pretty well and here we are.

Q. Do you feel like you've almost had three different careers already, from like when you first came up and then as a reliever, and now this year as a solid part of the rotation?
PHIL HUGHES: Yeah, the early part of my career, I wish I could forget, but that's something that I've kind of just had to deal with coming up as a young guy, injuries, that sort of thing.
You know, last year as a reliever was definitely a learning experience for me, and then you know, this year finally getting in a full season as a starter and you know, it's nice now when I look back on my first couple years, that obviously didn't go as well as I would have liked; that I could come back from that and put up a couple of decent seasons.

Q. I know you were not crazy about having the innings limit put on you this year, but now that it's over and you're back to pitching on your regular turn, do you feel that it benefitted you, or do you think it would not have made a difference?
PHIL HUGHES: It's hard to say. It's obviously there for a reason. You know, nobody's really in the position to say, well, it was beneficial or not. You know, when you look at the history of every pitcher that's pitched, injuries are a thing that happens and nobody can predict them.
I definitely appreciate what they did, what they were trying to do, and you know, I'm hoping in the long term that it helped.

Q. After your first post-season start, how would you compare the intensity of starting a post-season game compared to the regular-season game?
PHIL HUGHES: You know, going out for warmups and being that it was the first playoff game at home, you know, with the intros and all that, it was built up. So that certainly felt different.
But once the game started, you know, I really didn't feel a difference, as opposed to a regular-season game. I just tried to control my emotions and make one pitch at a time, and you know, when I look back on it, I feel like it didn't really affect me too much.

Q. You've made one start in the last two weeks. How does the extra rest affect you at this point of the season, and how does it affect your routine?
PHIL HUGHES: Well, routine-wise, you just throw out a couple of extra bullpens here and there depending on the days we have at home and the workouts and things like that. I had to deal with the extra rest coming into my first start, and I didn't feel like it really affected me too much, and I hope it's the same way this time through.

Q. Your last start A-Rod called a coming-out party. Do you feel any significance after the last couple of seasons you had or anything significant about the last start for you?
PHIL HUGHES: It was gratifying for sure. You want to go out there, especially in your first start and prove something and go out and have a good game. Obviously it's going to set the tone for whatever starts I have left in this post-season, and that was certainly nice.
You know, it was just gratifying, I think, as a whole, the way we played in that first round, a lot of question marks coming in about our pitching; that was certainly nice to go out there and have a good showing.
But other than that, we know we still have a lot of work to do, so I'm going to have to continue to pitch well.

Q. What are your specific memories from that second Major League start of yours where you took the no-hitter and got hurt at the same time? Can you see the good that happened that night or does the injury overshadow it? Does your family talk to you about your start, oh, you're going to pitch in Texas again; you've done well there.
PHIL HUGHES: I remember coming into that game, coming off my debut, it wasn't great. I still wanted to prove something, and I remember coming into that game and feeling really good. Everything was working. I came out early and was able to throw strikes. And then you know, it seems like a distant memory now. But obviously it didn't end too well. That was certainly disappointing. Family and friends know not really to bring it up, just because it's not one of my best memories. But at the same time, it was my first Major League win, and that certainly is still special.

Q. So this is the next step for you, a playoff start on the road; can you just talk about how you're embracing that challenge?
PHIL HUGHES: Yeah, I mean, it will be a good challenge I think. I pitched well on the road this season. You know, ballparks don't really tend to affect me too much. I like pitching here, which is a good thing. I'm looking forward to it, and excited for the challenge.

Q. People go through things in their careers, and obviously that first start was kind of a bittersweet thing, but how do you think that shaped you moving forward? Things sort of happen for a reason, and what do you think that sort of fit into where you are now I guess?
PHIL HUGHES: Well, I had to go through a lot in those first couple of years. You know, coming up and feeling good about things, and you know, having those few years in the Minor Leagues where I didn't really have too many hiccups and then having to do the whole rehab thing, getting re-injured during my rehab, really not pitching for the entire season, coming back and then getting hurt the next year; it was a tough couple of years for me.
But I really feel like that kind of shaped me into what I've been able to do so far, you know, just having to deal with that adversity and getting through it. I always try to take it as a positive and feel like it helped me get to this point.

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