TAMPA, Fla. New York pitcher Phil Hughes could be sidelined for two weeks because of a bulging disk that will be treated with anti-inflammatory medication.
“I’m convinced I’ll be symptom free in the next four or five days,” Hughes said Wednesday. “I felt like I was kind of ahead of the game with my throwing. I threw a bunch of bullpens before I got here, and, thankfully, it’s early enough in spring. It’s a setback, but I still have a lot of time to get it right.”
Hughes said he will be treated with the anti-inflammatory medication for four or five days. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said it could be two weeks before Hughes could resume throwing off a mound.
“Obviously, it’s something you wish you weren’t dealing with and, hopefully, it’s nothing major,” Cashman said. “We’ll know within the next two weeks. The expectations and the hope from that is that he’ll be fine and ready to go. But there’s no guarantees until we get through the two weeks’ process and see where he’s at. We won’t be out of the woods until we see all that stuff.”
Hughes needed an injection of painkiller in September 2011 to alleviate a seven-year-old back injury that recurred. A test then found inflammation caused by a herniated disk, an injury Hughes sustained in 2004 during his first professional season. When Hughes returned that year after the injection, the Yankees pitched him out of the bullpen.
The right-hander had an MRI on Tuesday, one day after experiencing discomfort in his upper back during a defensive drill.
“I was covering first base, and I just felt something grab,” Hughes said.
Hughes went 16-13 with 4.23 ERA in 32 starts for the Yankees last season. If things progress well, Hughes would start doing pool work in four or five days, and then possibly throw a couple days after that.
“If I pick up a ball in seven days, I won’t be too far behind in my throwing or anything,” Hughes said. “It can be recurring if I don’t take care of it now. Stay off it, let it heal, don’t push it, and it won’t be an issue.”
Hughes is making $7.15 million this year. He is eligible for free agency after the World Series.
Notes: Closer Mariano Rivera could throw batting practice for the first time Friday since getting hurt while shagging fly balls during batting practice last season. Baseball’s career saves leader had surgery June 12 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. ... Ace LHP CC Sabathia (left elbow bone spur surgery) is scheduled for his third bullpen session Friday.