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Yankees Pitcher Phil Hughes Sidelined With Upper Back Stiffness

Phil Hughes (credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Phil Hughes (credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes has upper back stiffness and will be sidelined for a few days.

“There’s always a little bit of concern, but it’s upper back by his shoulder blades, so we’ll see how he is in a couple of days,” manager Joe Girardi said on Tuesday. “You’re usually more concerned about the lower (back problem) lingering. The good thing is he was ahead of where he’d probably normally be at this time, which helps.”

Hughes was hurt on Monday during a defensive drill covering first base.

The 26-year-old went 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 32 starts in 2012. He recorded 165 strikeouts to 46 walks and surrendered 35 home runs.

Closer Mariano Rivera did throw 36 pitches during his third bullpen session, and is ready to face batters for the first time since May.

“I think the next one’s going to be BP,” Rivera said.

Baseball’s career saves leader was hurt while shagging fly balls during batting practice in Kansas City in May and had surgery on June 12 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

A small group of fans watched the 43-year-old right-hander throw and gave him a loud cheer afterward. One fan asked how he felt, and Rivera replied, “Fine, and how are you?”

Rivera usually pitches seven or eight innings in spring training games.

CC Sabathia threw 30 pitches in his second mound session and said his control was better. The left-hander had arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 25 to remove a bone spur from his left elbow.

Rivera and Sabathia are both expected to be ready for Opening Day.

Right-hander David Phelps, who threw 30 pitches during two innings in a simulated game, is scheduled to start Saturday’s spring training opener against Atlanta. Adam Warren is expected to start Sunday’s home exhibition opener with Toronto.

Notes: Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said there is no new news regarding contract talks with second baseman Robinson Cano, who could become a free agent after the season. Steinbrenner revealed two weeks ago that the team had talked with Cano’s agent, Scott Boras. “We expressed to Scott how much we like Robby and what a great Yankee he’s been, and we hope he continues his career here for a long time to come,” Steinbrenner said. “We just indicated to him on a very preliminary basis that we were willing to consider a significant long-term contract, and left it at that. There’s really nothing to report since then.” … Steinbrenner said there have been no talks with Girardi, who is in the final year of his contract … Steinbrenner talked with Girardi and GM Brian Cashman after Tuesday’s spring training workout.

Oy. Concerned, Yankees fans? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)