NEW YORK -- Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes expects to throw a bullpen session this coming weekend in order to be ready to make one final start of the regular season in the Yankees' series at Tampa Bay from Sept. 26-28. Hughes missed his start Wednesday after he aggravated a herniated disc in his lower back that he had originally injured in 2004.
"If I wouldn't have had this, I would have had two more starts left," Hughes said. "And now, hopefully I'll get one. In that respect, I'd like to get some more work in."
Hughes began feeling pain in his lower back during a bullpen session Friday and had an MRI on Wednesday. Though his doctors said the injury would heal on its own, the team decided to give him an epidural shot in order to speed up his recovery with the playoffs looming. Hughes said that the disc had been aggravated in the years since the original injury, but his pain wasn't subsiding at the rate it has in the past.
"I could have gone out there two days ago and been 90 percent," Hughes said. "They want to make sure that I can go out there and give my best stuff. It may be something that I have to treat and make sure it's right, but if I'm out on the mound, then it'll be 100 percent."
For Hughes, a final start of the year could help the Yankees evaluate how he will be used in the playoffs after a difficult 2011 season. Hughes missed two months during the first half of the season with inflammation in his pitching shoulder and has posted an unimpressive 6.00 ERA when he has been healthy.
"I want to go out there and pitch really well, get my ERA under six, hopefully, and go from there," Hughes said. "Whatever's going to go wrong seems like it has this year. It's been tough, but what are you going to do? I've just got to make the most of it."