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Phil Hughes (back) out at least a week

MRI reveals a bulging disc, right-hander taking anti-inflammatories
02/20/2013 10:07 AM ET
By Jon Lane

Phil Hughes is hopeful of returning to baseball activities sonner rather than later.(AP)
An MRI given to New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes to examine his stiff upper back revealed a bulging disc that's expected to sideline him for at least a week. Hughes was sent to a local spine doctor after the ailment developed when he was covering first base during Monday drills.

"There always are concerns with back issues. We will see how it plays out,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters. "Pitchers have to bend every time they throw.''

Hughes is taking anti-inflammatories and will continue to do so for the next four-to-five days. After the pain subsides, the next step is to participate in pool work.

"I'm convinced I'll be symptom-free in the next four to five days," Hughes said.

“It can be a recurring situation if I don’t take care of it now. (The doctor) was adamant on, stay off it, let it heal, don’t push it and it won’t be an issue. … The first day was rough getting out of bed and stuff like that. Now I’m moving around a lot better. I don’t feel it just standing here or anything. That part’s encouraging, and I feel like in three or four days, once I go through these meds, that I’m going to feel that much better.”

Hughes is slated to open the season as the Yankees' No. 4 starter. A free agent after the 2013 campaign, Hughes went 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA last year and has been affected at times by back issues, including one that forced him out of Game 3 of the ALCS. He will likely miss at least one turn through the Spring Training rotation with the hope that the ailment doesn't linger for too long.

"You are always concerned, but it's upper back in the shoulder blades,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Tuesday. "We will see how he is in a couple of days. The good thing is that he was probably ahead of where he would probably normally be at this time. You are usually more concerned about the lower back, but until it's gone it's going to linger."

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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