TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees starter Phil Hughes took another step forward in his rehabilitation program for a shoulder injury, throwing 50 pitches Tuesday against minor leaguers in a camp game.

Hughes has been out since April 15 because of inflammation in his right shoulder. He threw 36 strikes in an outing at the Yankees’ spring training complex.

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Hughes pitched three scoreless innings, including a five-out second. He struck out six, walked one and allowed two hits. His fastball reached 93 mph and averaged around 91.

The right-hander said the current plan is for him to throw 65 pitches Sunday for Class-A Staten Island.

“I thought it was encouraging today,” Hughes said. “I’m happy about that. I was throwing strikes. The other thing, and the biggest thing, is velocity and making sure that I feel good. So, I was satisfied with those three major concerns that I have.”

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An All-Star last year when he went 18-8, Hughes was 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA in three starts this year. He struggled to reach 90 mph with his fastball, though the team initially chalked it up to the cold weather and his penchant for slow starts.

“Feeling a lot better,” Hughes said. “Feel like the ball is coming out pretty good. So that’s all I can ask for at this point. Just trying to build up. Make sure I don’t have any setbacks and have a positive day everyday.”

Hughes was counted on to anchor the starting rotation this year with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. He had a 4.19 ERA last year, but his performance dipped in the second half and carried over into this season.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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