Baseball

Hughes nearing return to Yankees

New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes struck out eight and walked two over 6 innings for the Double-A Trenton Thunder on Wednesday during his third minor league rehab outing.

Hughes threw 88 pitches, 61 for strikes, and allowed one run and three hits against New Hampshire, the Eastern League affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. His fastball reached 94 mph.

“It was a good step,” Hughes said. “I went out today and did not even think about stuff. I know that’s what everybody wants to know about, but my last two outings, and even in the (simulated) games in Florida, my stuff was good.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Hughes looked great, and the team will discuss whether he needs another rehab start before coming off the disabled list.

Hughes had been scheduled to make four appearances in the minors, but Cashman said he showed a lot of improvement, consistently maintaining a 92-94 mph fastball Wednesday.

“It wouldn’t hurt for him to get one more,” Cashman said at Yankee Stadium. “Stuff-wise, we’re very impressed.”

Hughes was placed on the disabled list April 15 with a “dead arm,” later diagnosed as right-shoulder inflammation.

Cashman also said veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon’s recovery from a strained left hamstring suffered June 11 was going well and he could be on the mound this weekend.

Derek Jeter could also be nearing a key point in his rehab and ready to resume his chase for 3,000 hits by early next week.

The injured Yankees shortstop went through his latest round of work in Tampa, Fla., and Cashman said if all goes well, Jeter might begin a minor league rehab assignment Saturday with Trenton.

CASHMAN A WITNESS?

Cashman could be called as a witness in the upcoming Roger Clemens perjury trial, according to court documents filed late Wednesday night.

Rusty Hardin, Clemens’ lawyer, wrote that prosecutors plan to call “the General Manager of the Yankees, presumably to testify about Mr. Clemens’s role in Mr. McNamee being hired by the Yankees in 2000.”

NO STRUCTURAL DAMAGE FOR JOHNSON

A magnetic resonance imaging exam shows Florida Marlins ace Josh Johnson has no structural damage in his ailing right shoulder.

Johnson received a cortisone shot and won’t throw for 10 days. He’s expected to rejoin the rotation sometime after the All-Star break.

SHORT HOPS

The Cardinals cut pitcher Ryan Franklin. The former Mariner was 1-4 with an 8.46 ERA and one save in 16 games. … Mets manager Terry Collins is optimistic left-hander Jonathon Niese will be able to make his next start Friday after experiencing a rapid heartbeat while pitching last weekend. … Free-agent right-hander Luis Vizcaino has been suspended 50 games by MLB for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. … The Diamondbacks plan to give third baseman Melvin Mora his unconditional release today.

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