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.