Hughes has solid outing against Minor Leaguers

Hughes has solid outing against Minor Leaguers

TAMPA, Fla. -- If Phil Hughes felt half as good as he looked on the mound Tuesday morning, it won't be long before he rejoins his Yankees teammates.

Hughes pitched 3 2/3 innings of an intrasquad game at the Yankees' Minor League complex, fanning six and allowing two hits. He retired the first eight hitters he faced and walked one.

"It felt good; a lot better," said Hughes, who is scheduled to pitch Sunday for short-season Class A Staten Island. "I thought the ball was coming out pretty good, and that's all I can really ask for at this point. I'm just trying to build it up and make sure I don't have any setbacks."

It was the first time the 24-year-old pitched in a game since he was assigned to the disabled list on April 15 with right shoulder inflammation.

The outings leading up to his shelving puzzled many, as the right-hander worked to an 0-1 record and 13.94 ERA in three starts (10 1/3 innings) with New York. Hughes said Tuesday there were three criteria under which he would evaluate himself -- ability to throw strikes, physical well-being and velocity -- and labeled the outing a success.

He topped the radar gun at 93 mph, and hovered in the low-90s throughout his outing.

"I was satisfied with those three major concerns that I had," said Hughes, who threw 36 of his 49 pitches for strikes. "I did all those pretty well today, and that was the biggest thing."

Hughes will remain in Tampa for the week and head to Staten Island prior to Sunday's game. He is slated to throw 65 pitches there, and barring a setback, he'll move to a pitch count of 80 during a third rehab stint.

From there, Hughes said he hopes to "have the leash off," hastening his return to the Majors, but an exact timetable is not yet in place.

"Today was a good test," Hughes said. "I came out and got some good work in. ... [My shoulder] is out of my mind, and that's a good thing. Once I get loose and get on the mound, it's something I don't even think about. It's not really a concern, I just have to make sure that every time I go out, it's the same story.

"Really, until I get up to the 100-pitch mark, there's no way of knowing [when I'll rejoin New York]. If I stay on track ... I'm hoping it won't be too much longer, but it's kind of out of my hands. I have to go out there and pitch well and show the stuff that I deserve to be there."

Dawn Klemish is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.