Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes had what many might consider a novel response when the team offered him a way to earn a half-million dollar bonus that a rain delay denied him.
He said no thanks.
Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes, right, watches from the dugout in the the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (Image source: AP/Paul Sancya)
Hughes’ contract stipulates that he earn a $500,000 bonus after completing 210 innings pitched. After he pitched eight innings Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing only one run, it started raining in Minneapolis.
After the 66-minute delay, another pitcher entered the game in the ninth inning — standard operating procedure in the MLB — leaving Hughes at 209 2/3 innings pitched in 2014.
He missed the magic number by one out.
[sharequote align="center"]"I just thought that would be unfair."[/sharequote]
While ESPN reported that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after the game that he wouldn't use Hughes out of the bullpen this weekend, Gardenhire and general manager Terry Ryan told Hughes Thursday he could pitch in relief this weekend to trigger the $500,000 windfall in his contract.
"I just thought that would be unfair," the pitcher told the MLB network during an on-air interview from the Twins dugout Thursday. "We've got a lot of guys down in that bullpen that are pitching for a job next year, pitching to impress some guys on our coaching staff and I didn't think it would be right to take that inning from them."
Hughes said the extra half-million he'd have garnered is "a chunk of money that's equal to what a lot of guys are making this year," which would make trying to eke it out distasteful to him.
"If I were fighting for a playoff spot, I'd 100 percent be available," Hughes said. "But given the circumstances, I don't think it's the right thing to do."
Wednesday's rain delay wasn't the only weather-related incident to cost Hughes innings; before a rainout on Sept. 12 pushed his scheduled start back a day, he was set to pitch the season finale on Sunday, MLB.com noted.
"I owe too much to this organization for the next two years to risk getting hurt for an incentive … for whatever reason, it wasn't meant to be," Hughes told MLB.com. "There's a lot bigger problems out there. I'm proud of my season."
Ryan told MLB.com offering Hughes more innings in relief was the right thing to do since rain had been a factor and because of how well he pitched this season. After Hughes told Ryan he was declining the offer, the general manager told the network Hughes is "a good man" and "a quality guy."
Hughes set a major league record for a single-season strikeout-to-walk ratio, according to ESPN, finishing 2014 with 186 strikeouts and only 16 walks — an 11.63 ratio.
In fact, Hughes had as many wins this season as walks, becoming just the third pitcher in the modern era to accomplish that feat with at least 15 wins, MLB.com noted.
Hughes thanked fans who took to social media to say he deserved the extra $500K, joking that it's not typical that fans want players getting more cash.
"That was very kind of them to appreciate what I've done this year," Hughes told MLB.com. "If I would've reached this milestone over the course of my 32 starts, then so be it. But I didn't, so it is what it is."
This story has been updated.