Phil Hughes’ back injury has never been considered serious, but Joe Girardi admitted Wednesday that the righthander’s status for the start of the season could be in doubt.
“Is it in jeopardy, his starting? It’s possible, yeah,” Girardi said. “I think it’s too early to tell that though.”
Hughes figures to be at least a week away from getting back on a mound and two weeks from getting into a game. Girardi estimated that Hughes would need at least four starts this spring to get his pitch count to 75 in order to pitch the first week of the season. As long as he makes his first start around March 15, he should have time to be ready.
“If I get to 70 pitches and they feel like I’m ready to go, then I’m ready to go,” Hughes said.
Hughes has been out of action since Feb. 17, when he tweaked his back while covering first base during a fielding drill. An MRI revealed a bulging disc in his upper back, which required four days of anti-inflammatory medication before he embarked on a rehab program.
Hughes said Wednesday he is “pain-free,” but he knows the Yankees will take their time before letting him throw again.