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Wednesday morning notes: Hughes sidelined with bulging disc

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The Yankees have a 40-year-old starter, a starter who just turned 38, and a starter who had elbow surgery this offseason. But the first one to come down with an injury is the 26-year-old who made 32 starts last season. You can bet the rest of the rotation is giving Phil Hughes a hard time.

“I’ve got to get it right so I can get them off my back as well,” Hughes said.

Hughes has been diagnosed with a bulging disc in his upper back. It happened while he was covering first base during fielding drills — “Nothing that I haven’t done a thousand times before,” he said — and an MRI revealed the injury. Hughes said he was experiencing no symptoms leading up to the injury. Just made a movement and his back got stiff.

“It can be a recurring situation if I don’t take care of it now,” Hughes said. “(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 has another three or four days of anti-inflammatories. After that he’ll work out for a couple of days in a pool. If the symptoms are gone at that point, he’ll be able to throw again. Best-case scenario has him picking up a ball in six or seven days.

“I felt like I was kind of ahead of the game with my throwing,” Hughes said. “I threw a bunch of bullpens before I got here. Thankfully it’s early enough in spring where, it’s a setback, but we still have a lot of time to get it right and not push it and make sure I’m 100 percent healthy. When I do pick up a ball in seven days I won’t be too far behind in my throwing.”

[3] [4]• Not sure there’s much to make of this, but today’s fielding drills have outfielders going to specific positions. Curtis Granderson is assigned to center field. Brett Gardner is assigned to left field.

• David Adams still isn’t cleared to do work on the field, but he said his back feels “great.” He could get on the field Monday at the earliest, but that will be just workouts on the field. He won’t be cleared for baseball activities until he does a few days of on-the-field workouts.

• For the second day in a row, Dan Johnson is going to get reps at third base. Joe Girardi has mentioned the idea of carrying a left-handed bat off the bat. If Johnson can prove himself at third, he could put himself in the mix.

• There were a few simulated games earlier today, with Ivan Nova being the only big leaguer in the mix. Live batting practice is scheduled for later in the day, including Joba Chamberlain.

• Today is photo day, which means players spent all morning cycling through a series of photobooths, ranging from television to video games to baseball cards to headshots. Players are generally not excited about photo day, and that’s probably a nice way to put it.

• Today’s defensive groups changed a little bit so that all of the big league regulars are in a group together. It’s interested that Travis Hafner’s name is listed in that same defensive group, except he’s not assigned a position. His name is just there, with no place to play.

[5]Simulated games (facing Luke Murton, Slade Heathcott and Zoilo Almonte)

Corey Black (throwing to Gary Sanchez)
Bryan Mitchell (Kyle Higashioka)
Shane Greene (Francisco Arcia)
Mike O’Brien (J.R. Murphy)
Branden Pinder (Austin Romine)
Ivan Nova (Bobby Wilson)

Pitchers’ batting practice (based on the sheet, I’m not sure who the hitters will be)

Joba Chamberlain (throwing to Wilson)
Jose Ramirez (Francisco Cervelli)
Matt Daley (Cervelli)
Kelvin Perez (Chris Stewart)
Josh Spence (Stewart)
Francisco Rondon (Romine)

Defensive drills

Group 1
Infielders: Robinson Cano (2B), Travis Hafner (none), Derek Jeter (SS), Dan Johnson (3B), Jayson Nix (2B), Eduardo Nunez (SS), Kyle Roller (1B), Mark Teixiera (1B), Kevin Youkilis (3B)
Outfielders: Matt Diaz (LF), Brett Gardner (LF), Curtis Granderson (CF), Melky Mesa (CF), Juan Rivera (RF), Ichiro Suzuki (RF)

Group 2
Infielders: Greg Bird (1B), Cito Culver (SS), Walter Ibarra (SS), Corban Joseph (2B), Addison Maruszak (3B), Luke Murton (1B), Jose Pirela (2B), Rob Segedin (3B), Gil Velazquez (SS)
Outfielders: Zoilo Almonte (RF), Tyler Austin (RF), Ramon Flores (LF), Adonis Garcia (CF), Slade Heathcott (CF), Ronnier Mustelier (LF), Thomas Neal (RF)

Batting practice groups (stayed the same)

Group 1
Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner, Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez

Group 2
Dan Johnson, Jayson Nix, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis

Group 3
Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Juan Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki

Group 4
Matt Diaz, Melky Mesa, Ronnier Mustelier, Thomas Neal

Group 5
Corban Joseph, Addison Maruszak, Luke Murton, Gil Velazquez

Group 6
Zoilo Almonte, Slade Heathcott, Kyle Roller, Rob Segedin

Group 7
Greg Bird, Cito Culver, Walter Ibarra, Jose Pirela

Group 8
Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, Adonis Garcia

Associated Press photos