Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By Jason Catania
Earlier this spring, a bulging disk in Phil Hughes' back caused the right-hander to be shut down and put his chances to be ready for the season in jeopardy.
The injury has kept Hughes sidelined for since mid-February -- so nearly a month -- but the veteran finally made his return to the mound Monday, throwing 26 pain-free pitches in a bullpen session, per MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
While Hughes still has a ways to go to get ready for the season, both he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild acknowledged that it's possible, as long as everything works out going forward.
The New York Post's George King had reported earlier this month that Hughes' goal was to return to pitching by March 14 to give him enough time to be good to go. The fact that spring training is a little longer this year, thanks to the World Baseball Classic, has helped Hughes, who isn't as far behind as he would be in a previous year.
With Ivan Nova and David Phelps competing for the final rotation spot, presumably both would get a turn or two in the five-man during the regular season if Hughes isn't set.