Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hughes Making Progress

As per Marc Carig:
Plenty of hurdles remain for Phil Hughes to clear before he returns to game action for the first time since April 14. But the right-hander has taken a critical first step toward that goal.

Hughes has started throwing off a mound.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Hughes said. “Hopefully I can keep having these days where I don’t have any issues.”

He last threw off a mound April 25 and was scheduled to play catch before last night’s game against the Mariners, one day after he threw 20 fastballs in a bullpen session.

“It’s encouraging,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Hughes has been on the disabled list since April 15 with inflammation in his right shoulder, though the more pressing issue was muscle fatigue that took some of the velocity off his fastball.

After a round of tests ruled out any major injuries to his right shoulder, Hughes began a strengthening program that involved long tossing.

“Everything feels good,” Hughes said. “It’s pain-free. That’s all I can look at.”
This is probably the best news that we have heard with respect to Hughes in 2011. While this does not speak to the quality of his stuff or any sort of timetable, simply acknowledging that Hughes is currently throwing pain-free is encouraging. The next step will be more diversified bullpen sessions (including the utilization of his off-speed stuff), followed by some rehab starts in the minors. I'd expect to see Hughes make several starts, given his struggle pre-injury, but we're still a few weeks away from such considerations.

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