Phil Hughes targeting early-July return to the major leagues

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Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News passes along notice that Yankees starter Phil Hughes has been cleared to report to the team’s spring training complex in Tampa to continue his rehabilitation from right arm fatigue. He’ll arrive there Monday.

Hughes has been traveling with his Yankees teammates for the past couple of weeks and threw a live batting practice session on Saturday to backups Chris Dickerson and Francisco Cervelli.

He told the Daily News that the workout went well, and that he’s feeling pretty strong:

“I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand good and I had no issues throwing. Everything seemed pretty sharp. At this stage, I think that’s pretty much all I can ask for. I’ve said all along I won’t know for sure until I get in a game, but so far everything has been right where I want it. There’s somewhat of a timetable now; I can sort of start to look ahead.”

Hughes will begin participating in extended spring training games within the next few days. If everything goes smoothly, he could begin a minor league rehab assignment by the middle of June.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi suggested last week that Hughes could be back before the All-Star break.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.