DETROIT (AP) -- New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes is apparently responding well to a cortisone shot last week for his ailing right shoulder and is expected to begin a throwing program in a couple weeks.
General manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday that Hughes had an injection last Thursday and is feeling "significantly better" -- although there's still an air of mystery surrounding an injury the team once feared might keep the All-Star pitcher out the rest of the season.
"I still have hope that we're going to get this guy back, and he's going to help us, but I can't tell you that we're out of the woods yet," Cashman said. "We're going to have to wait and see how he responds to the recommendations of rest and physical therapy and conditioning. ... We won't really know that, probably, until about six weeks."
Cashman says Hughes is being told to rest his arm another couple weeks before beginning a throwing program. Hughes has gone through a battery of tests since going on the disabled list on April 15 with what the team now calls shoulder inflammation. The Yankees said Monday that tests came back negative for any circulatory or vascular issues.
Cashman says that Hughes still has to build up his arm strength.
"I think he feels a lot better that this isn't anything more serious," Cashman said. "I can just tell you where we are in the process as we peel the onion. Hopefully, we'll come out on the back end, and we'll be ready. If we don't, clearly we're dealing with something that we just haven't been able to get our arms wrapped around."
Hughes was 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA after three starts. He struggled to reach 90 mph with his fastball, though the team initially chalked it up to the cold weather and his penchant for slow starts.
When things didn't improve, the team put him on the disabled list.
The 24-year-old Hughes was counted on to anchor the starting rotation along with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, after going 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA last year. His performance dipped after he was picked to his first All-Star team, though, and that carried over into this season before he stopped pitching entirely.
"There was a black cloud before, and now there is optimism that he will be back," manager Joe Girardi said. "We'll just keep our fingers crossed."
The Yankees have patched up their rotation with aging veterans, and so far there's been little drop-off. Freddy Garcia was 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA entering Wednesday night's start at Detroit, and 38-year-old Bartolo Colon is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA.
"You don't want to lose any pitcher for six to eight weeks, but we're going to have to deal with it," Girardi said. "We've been fortunate that Bartolo is throwing the ball very well in his absence."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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