Hughes back on dry land

TAMPA, Fla. -- It was only a game of catch, 25 easy throws from about 60 feet away, but for the first time in a week, Phil Hughes did his work outside of a pool and said he felt "no issues" from the bulging disk in his upper back that caused him to be shut down Feb. 18.

"That's a positive first step and we'll just have to go from here," said Hughes, who first felt the injury while reaching for a ball during a fielding dril. "First day, they didn't want me to go crazy, especially in the cold."

The next step is for Hughes to play catch again Monday, and the hope is that he will still have enough time left in the spring to be ready to head north with the team for Opening Day.

"Obviously I can't have any setbacks," he said. "I know that I have to get four or five starts, and every day that I'm not throwing or not on the mound is another day that it's harder to get going again. I just have to take it slow, but I figure that it's not the worst thing in the world to miss a little bit of time now than have this be an issue going forward."

It is possible that Hughes could remain in Tampa to make a minor league start while the rest of the team heads to New York, because the Yankees will not need a fifth starter until April 7 in Detroit.