Phil Hughes throws simulated inning, nears rehab assignment

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Pitching coach Larry Rothschild was the only batter and he never actually took a swing, but technically Phil Hughes threw about 50 pitches in a simulated outing yesterday.

Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger reports that Hughes will face real hitters taking actual swings when he throws batting practice Saturday, at which point the Yankees may clear him to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

Hughes has been out since mid-April with shoulder inflammation that has also been called a “dead arm.” Initially the projected timetables for his return were pretty pessimistic, but he’s avoided setbacks and now a return by the end of the month seems possible.

Reds sign outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera to minor league deals

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The Reds picked up outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera on minor league deals, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Both Williams and Herrera will receive invites to spring training and could compete for backup outfield roles behind Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler.

Williams, 26, completed a three-year track with the Yankees in 2017. He has yet to see a full season of playing time, however, and went 4-for-17 with two stolen bases during a five-game span with the club in 2017. While not a power hitter, his speed and steady contact rate produced a .263/.309/.318 batting line over 437 plate appearances in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including two home runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.

Herrera, 25, has yet to make his big league debut. After seven years in the Rockies’ system, he finally reached Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and slashed .278/.351/.394 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 363 PA. He looks most comfortable in the left field corner, but has some experience at shortstop and third base and should give the Reds a nice utility option come spring.