Spring Headlines: Phil Hughes sidelined two weeks with back injury, Johnny Cueto out of WBC

That discomfort Phil Hughes felt in his back while covering first base during fielding drills on Monday? Turns out it was a symptom of something fairly significant.

According to MRI results revealed on Wednesday, the Yankees right-hander is dealing with a bulging disc between the T5 and T6 vertebrae. As a result, Hughes will be a given a "two-week timeout" to rest and recover. He'll also be treated with anti-inflammatory medicine, which already appears to be easing the discomfort, but Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman will not be taking any chances whatsoever with a key member of their starting rotation.

From MLB.com's Adam Berry:

The 26-year-old spoke optimistically about the injury Wednesday morning, admitting it was a setback but pointing toward a best-case scenario in which he's back to throwing within six or seven days. But Cashman and manager Joe Girardi were a little more reserved.

Both said Hughes' likely return date was closer to two weeks and advised a wait-and-see approach regarding whether this will alter Hughes' Spring Training schedule or keep him from making his first start of the season.

"There's concern, because we're not going to see him doing anything, really, for 10 days to two weeks," said Girardi, who dealt with similar injuries as a player. "Hopefully everything is OK after that [and] we get him back out doing what he's supposed to be doing. I am pleased that he feels a lot better than he did a couple days ago, but we've still got to worry about it."

Obviously this isn't the news Yankees fans were hoping for early in camp. As Girardi indicates from his experience, back injuries can be tricky and tend to flare up without much warning. The extra rest should help the process, but until the Yankees know how his body responds in two weeks it will continue to be a cause for concern.

M’s ship Mike Carp to Boston: With Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak already on board, the Seattle Mariners elected to cut bait with Mike Carp once they needed to make room for Joe Saunders on the 40-man roster. Carp was officially designated for assignment on Feb. 12, giving them ten days to outright release or trade him. With 48 hours to spare, they found a taker in the Red Sox, who acquired him for a player to be named later or cash. He’ll give Boston insurance at first base in case Mike Napoli breaks down, and could also provide depth in the outfield.

Albert Pujols will be eased into spring action: On a not so surprising note, the Los Angeles Angels will ease Albert Pujols into action this spring after the all-world slugger underwent minor knee surgery in October. According to DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, the Angels will target a mid-March Cactus League debut, but fully expect Pujols to be ready to roll come Opening Day.

Reds pull Johnny Cueto from World Baseball Classic: Bad news for the Dominican Republic. According to Bryce Dixon, the agent for Johnny Cueto, the Cincinnati Reds have exercised their right to prevent their ace from pitching for his home country in the World Baseball Classic.

Cueto hit the disabled list after suffering an oblique strain during Game One of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants. The injury has long since healed, but the Reds took advantage of the injury rule to not only ensure Cueto puts in a full training camp under their watch, but also to prevent him from overexerting himself in the tournament.

Tough break for his country. Wise move by Cincinnati.

Quote of the Day: Derek Jeter had a response for David Price, who earlier on Wednesday said he’d never sign with the Yankees due to their “old-school” facial hair policy.

From Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:

“Do you really think some player would say no, all things considered, if it was a good deal for them? I’m not talking about his situation, but if it was a good deal for a player, I’m pretty sure most guys – maybe not all guys – would have no trouble shaving.”

“Maybe it means a lot to him. I don’t know.”

Call me crazy, but I honestly believe Price would stick to his word if the decision is his to make (via free agency).

Video of the Day: Rogers Clemens will serve as a special instructor for the Houston Astros this spring. It appears his duties will include throwing batting practice from time to time, as was the case on Wednesday.

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