Phil Hughes may not be ready for the start of the season

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Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his upper back early last week and hasn’t made a whole lot of progress in the days since. Which prompted manager Joe Girardi to tell Byran Hoch of MLB.com this afternoon that “it’s possible” Hughes won’t be on the active roster when the 2013 regular season gets underway.

Hughes also dealt with back issues last year in the postseason and the Yankees don’t want to rush him into Grapefruit League games for fear that they might make the injury worse than it already is.

The Yankees could go a few different directions if they need some starts covered in early April. Signing a veteran off the scrapheap who is willing to spend most of the summer with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre might be a good idea. Roy Oswalt, Dallas Braden and Carlos Zambrano are among the available options. Derek Lowe also remains unsigned.

Or the Yankees could opt to move David Phelps from the bullpen to the rotation for a bit.

Hughes, 26, posted a 4.23 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 7.8 K/9 across 191 1/3 innings last season.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.

The Red Sox sign Jhonny Peralta

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The Red Sox have signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor-league deal. He’ll report to Pawtucket.

Peralta, 35, hit a paltry .204/.259/.204 in 58 plate appearances for the Cardinals this year. But with Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list — and ineffective when he hasn’t been — the Sox could use some infield depth.

This is the second former Tiger that former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has picked up today, after signing Doug Fister. No word if he’s kicking the tires on Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch.