New York Yankees
Phil Hughes threw between 35 and 40 pitches in a bullpen session on Saturday and reported "no issues" with his recently-balky back.
Hughes was scratched from his start due to lingering back pain from a herniated disk which Hughes suffered in 2004.
Hughes received an epidural shot on Wednesday and said his back has felt "good." The shot takes about 48 hours to be fully effective.
The 25-year-old righthander expects to get back on the mound sometime next week in Tampa, where the Yankees play a three-game series to close out the regular season.
He is not sure if that appearance will be as a starter or reliever.
Joe Girardi hinted on Saturday that he would lean toward using Hughes as a reliever in the postseason due to his recent inactivity.
“I think you have to think about that. I think that’s one of the things you have to think about just because he hasn't thrown in a while and we’re not sure how it’s going to play out in the next couple of days after throwing this bullpen. Just a lot of decisions to be made by Friday,” the manager said.
The back spasms are the latest set-back for Hughes in what has been a difficult season, one which Hughes himself termed a 'disaster' on Saturday.
He was placed on the disabled list in May with a mysterious right shoulder inflammation that sapped his fastball velocity. After a three-month DL stint, Hughes returned in July and went 5-4 with a 4.67 ERA in 11 starts before the spams.
Hughes looks at the postseason as a way to redefine his year.
"I pitched in the bullpen in '09 and I came in relief in '07. Just being a part of this is pretty special so whether I'm starting or relieving, I just want to be here so that's the way I look at it," Hughes said.