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.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.