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Phil Hughes throws 26 pitches in batting practice

03/14/2013 12:37 PM ET
By Jon Lane

Phil Hughes is coming off a 16-win season.(AP)
Phil Hughes threw 26 pitches in a live batting practice session on Thursday morning in Tampa, Fla., with no complications, but it appears that he may not start the season with the New York Yankees. Hughes will next pitch in a simulated game on Monday, but he will require four starts before his turn in the rotation comes up on April 7.

That leaves open the possibility Hughes could remain in Florida to make at least one Minor-League start.

"Everything's got to go right for me," Hughes told reporters "But I would rather miss one start in the beginning than miss a whole bunch later on."

Penciled in as the Yankees' No. 4 starter, Hughes suffered a budging disc in his mid-back on February 20 during a fielding drill. After not picking up a ball for two weeks, Hughes worked out in a pool, played catch and moved up to bullpen sessions.

If Hughes needs more time, Ivan Nova and David Phelps, competing for the fifth starter's job, will likely break camp as starters, with one to work in long relief once Hughes is ready.

"I think it' s still really early to judge if he'll be ready to start the season," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "I would like to leave here with five starters and if he can make a start here pretty quick it gives him a much better chance."

"He might be Minor-League bound," Girardi said. "But just for the day he starts."

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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