Phil Hughes could miss start of season due to back trouble

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Hughes' back may prevent him from being ready in time for the regular season. (AP)

Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes has been nursing a bulging disk in his back over the last week, taking anti-inflammatory medication and doing limited work in a pool. Manager Joe Girardi acknowledged on Wednesday that his No. 4 starter might be ready in time for the regular season.

“It's possible,” Girardi said to Chad Jennings of the Journal News. “I think it's too early to tell that, though.”

Girardi said Hughes, 26, needs to be stretched out to roughly 75 pitches before he can make a regular-season start, and they simply might run out of time in camp. Jennings does the math and says if he needs four starts and pitches every five days, the latest Hughes could get on a mound and be ready for the season is March 18.

If he can't stretch out in time, the Yankees will turn to Ivan Nova and David Phelps at the back of their rotation. The two right-handers are competing for the fifth spot at the moment but could both step right in should Hughes not be ready in time. Michael Pineda is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery and isn't a rotation option yet.

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