When Phil Hughes signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the Minnesota Twins, he wasn't expecting the New York Yankees to honor him with a plaque in Monument Park.
The former New York pitcher will try for a bit more success at Yankee Stadium as a visitor Sunday when the Twins close a three-game set in his first trip back to the Bronx.
"It's tough when you leave somewhere on such a negative note," said Hughes, who went 25-21 with a 5.04 ERA as a starter at the current Yankee Stadium.
After an All-Star 2010 season, he regressed to the point that he was 1-10 with a 6.32 ERA at home in 2013 in 16 starts and one relief appearance.
He knows this particular outing is going to be a bit more layered.
"There's going to be some weird at-bats," Hughes said of pitching to many of his former teammates.
But given his recent form and the Yankees' home struggles, it could be a positive situation for Hughes (5-1, 3.23 ERA).
The right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.94 ERA in his last seven starts, and he hasn't issued a walk against 175 straight batters since handing out six free passes over his first four outings. His 8.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio is second only to David Price (10.00), while his 0.88 walks per nine innings trails only Tim Hudson (0.77).
Ichiro Suzuki is 7 for 17 against Hughes, while Brian Roberts is 2 for 17.
Hughes won't face former teammate Mark Teixeira, who left Saturday's game because of more soreness in his surgically repaired right wrist. Teixeira missed three games in St. Louis because of inflammation in the wrist but returned to the lineup Friday night. He's expected to be out for two games.
After New York's 3-1 win Saturday, the Yankees (29-25) have won four of their last 12 home games and are 12-12 at Yankee Stadium this season.
"I think it's a fairly small sample size. I wouldn't make too much of it," manager Joe Girardi told the team's official website. "Obviously, it's important that we play better at home, and it's important that you take advantage of your home ballpark and the way your team is built. So far we haven't as much as we should have."
They've been able to rely on Yangervis Solarte against the Twins. The third baseman is 5 for 8 in the series and hit a home run Saturday, continuing to work out of a 2-for-24 slump that spanned seven games leading into this series.
The Twins (25-28) managed four hits in the loss and are batting .198 with 23 runs over a 3-7 stretch. Second baseman Brian Dozier went 0 for 4 and is 2 for 31 in eight games, while first baseman Joe Mauer went 0 for 4 and is batting .185 in 54 at-bats over his last 13 contests.
Chase Whitley could be the next benefactor. Whitley (0-0, 2.57) will try to guide the Yankees to a series win while also going for his first career victory. In his third start, the rookie made it through five innings while surrendering three runs and eight hits in Monday's 6-4 win in St. Louis. New York has won each of his starts.
New York is 32-10 over the last 13 seasons against Minnesota in the Bronx, but the teams have split the last 14 games there.
Twins outfielder Danny Santana was out of the lineup Saturday after needing seven stitches Friday to close a cut on his left eyelid. He is day to day.