Phil Hughes nears return, throws simulated game in Kansas City

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Twins righty Phil Hughes was back on the mound Wednesday afternoon in Kansas City.

He wasn't pitching in a game – he's not even off the disabled list – but Hughes threw 45 pitches to Twins hitters as part of a simulated game. He then went and threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen.

Hughes reportedly looked pretty sharp in his first action and the better news is that he was feeling good afterwards.

"I was experiencing some symptoms all the way up to a couple of days ago. So to not feel anything now is certainly a step in the right direction," Hughes told reporters Wednesday. "Now it's just a matter of honing in on my command, making sure my stuff is all good."

Hughes is 10-8 with a 4.49 ERA this season. He made 23 starts and has thrown 144 1/3 innings, while striking out 85 hitters. Hughes' velocity had fallen off noticeably in his last few starts, and he's dealt with a bulging disc in his back.

He's hopeful the time off has given his arm some much needed time off as well.

The next step in Hughes' return remains somewhat uncertain, but Twins manager Paul Molitor said the Twins want to see how Hughes feels on Thursday before deciding what's next.

Mike Pelfrey is on the mound against Kansas City Wednesday night. According to the Star Tribune, Pelfrey's ERA over his last three starts is 10.22 and he's lasted six innings only once.

A healthy Hughes would mean the Twins will likely have to make a decision with the rotation, so Pelfrey's future could depend largely on his start Wednesday night.

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