Phil Hughes throws simulated inning, nears rehab assignment

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Pitching coach Larry Rothschild was the only batter and he never actually took a swing, but technically Phil Hughes threw about 50 pitches in a simulated outing yesterday.

Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger reports that Hughes will face real hitters taking actual swings when he throws batting practice Saturday, at which point the Yankees may clear him to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

Hughes has been out since mid-April with shoulder inflammation that has also been called a “dead arm.” Initially the projected timetables for his return were pretty pessimistic, but he’s avoided setbacks and now a return by the end of the month seems possible.

Pirates activate Starling Marte

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.

Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.

In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.