Phil Hughes targeting early-July return to the major leagues

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Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News passes along notice that Yankees starter Phil Hughes has been cleared to report to the team’s spring training complex in Tampa to continue his rehabilitation from right arm fatigue. He’ll arrive there Monday.

Hughes has been traveling with his Yankees teammates for the past couple of weeks and threw a live batting practice session on Saturday to backups Chris Dickerson and Francisco Cervelli.

He told the Daily News that the workout went well, and that he’s feeling pretty strong:

“I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand good and I had no issues throwing. Everything seemed pretty sharp. At this stage, I think that’s pretty much all I can ask for. I’ve said all along I won’t know for sure until I get in a game, but so far everything has been right where I want it. There’s somewhat of a timetable now; I can sort of start to look ahead.”

Hughes will begin participating in extended spring training games within the next few days. If everything goes smoothly, he could begin a minor league rehab assignment by the middle of June.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi suggested last week that Hughes could be back before the All-Star break.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.