MRI shows only inflammation in Phil Hughes’ back

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Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes has already been scratched from two different outings this week, but all signs point to him returning to action sometime soon.

According to beat writer Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger, an MRI taken Wednesday afternoon on Hughes’ ailing back showed inflammation related to a herniated disc that he suffered back in 2004.

Hughes, who hasn’t pitched since September 12, was given an epidural injection to treat the soreness and should be able to throw a bullpen session this weekend. If that workout goes well, he could be cleared to make a start early next week against the Rays.

The 25-year-old has posted a 6.00 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and 45/24 K/BB ratio through 72 innings this season.

The Angels were the first team to use up all of their mound visits

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Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.

Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.

At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.