Phil Hughes throws first bullpen session since being shut down with bulging disk in back

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Phil Hughes was diagnosed with a bulging disk in his upper back not long after arriving to spring training, but he returned to the mound earlier this morning.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, Hughes threw a 10-pitch bullpen session and reported no issues with his back. He’s scheduled to throw a longer one on Monday and will progress from there.

There’s no timetable for Hughes to throw in a game, so the Yankees are preparing for the possibility that he will not be ready for the start of the season. If he needs more time, Ivan Nova and David Phelps will both begin the year in the rotation.

Hughes, 26, went 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA and 165/46 K/BB ratio over 191 1/3 innings last season. He is eligible to become a free agent after the 2013 season.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.

Ervin Santana gets Opening Day nod from Twins again

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Ervin Santana will once again start on Opening Day for the Twins, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. He’ll face the Royals at home in a day game on Monday, April 3.

The last pitcher to start back-to-back Opening Days for the Twins was Carl Pavano in 2011-12.

Santana, 34, is entering the third year of a four-year, $55 million contract signed in December 2014. Last season, the right-hander finished with a solid 3.38 ERA and a 149/53 K/BB ratio over 181 1/3 innings.