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.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.