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.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.