The Bronx is in sight for Phil Hughes

TRENTON, N.J. -- New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes moved closer to getting back on a major league mound.

Hughes had his most encouraging rehab start on Wednesday afternoon, going 6 1/3 innings while allowing one earned run for Double-A Trenton. He left to a standing ovation at Waterfront Park with two men on in the seventh.

With general manager Brian Cashman and vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman among a contingent from the Yankees‘ brass in attendance, the 25-year-old allowed just three hits, walked two and struck out eight.

Hughes’ fastball sat in the 87-94 mph range. He threw 61 of his 88 pitches for strikes, while getting more swinging strikes (20) than any of his previous two rehab outings combined. Forty- eight of Hughes’ 88 pitches -- or 54.6 percent -- registered between 91-94 mph. Over the first six innings, his fastball reached 93 mph 18 times.

Five days from now, Hughes could pitch for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which hosts Lehigh Valley on July 4.

Hughes retired the first 10 batters he faced before allowing a one-out single in the fourth to New Hampshire Fisher Cats center fielder Anthony Gose. He didn’t have his first three-ball count or walk his first hitter until the fifth, a frame in which he escaped after allowing two men to reach base. Hughes did not allow a runner to reach third base.

Hughes made his second rehab start last Friday night, throwing 72 pitches over 3 1/3 innings for the Thunder in New Britain, Conn. His fastball velocity registered mostly in the 91-92 mph range, and he recorded six swinging strikes.

Hughes made his first rehab start on June 19 for Class A Staten Island, tossing 61 pitches over 4 1/3 innings. He gave up a home run and three hits.

The Yankees placed Hughes on the disabled list on April 15 with inflammation in his shoulder after watching his velocity disappear. Hughes averaged just 89.3 mph on his fastball in his three starts, according to FanGraphs.com, and was 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA.