Phil Hughes, on the disabled list since April 15, threw...

Phil Hughes, on the disabled list since April 15, threw off a mound Friday. (Feb. 16, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Joe Girardi said earlier in the week that he hoped to have Phil Hughes back in the Yankees' rotation by the All-Star break, if not a little before.

Hughes is shooting for sooner than that.

"Before [June] ended would be great," the 24-year-old righthander said yesterday morning after a 50-pitch bullpen session. He was quick to add: "But I have nothing to do with that."

The plan is for Hughes to throw batting practice Saturday and then, he hopes, a rehab game sometime after that.

"Everything felt great," said Hughes, who for the second consecutive bullpen session threw fastballs, curveballs and changeups.

Girardi said exactly what Hughes will do Saturday hasn't been determined. "It's BP if you tell them what's coming," the manager said. "If you don't tell them, it's more like a simulated inning. Not sure what he's going to do."

Hughes threw a simulated inning yesterday in what was his third bullpen session since Friday in Seattle. He has been on the disabled list since April 15 with inflammation in his pitching shoulder.

Girardi said pitching coach Larry Rothschild's report was positive regarding Hughes' fastball, while aware that the success of the arm-strengthening program can't be judged until Hughes appears in a game.

"Larry said [the ball] is definitely coming out better," Girardi said.

Hughes, who hasn't experienced any setbacks since receiving a cortisone shot in the shoulder April 28, agreed, though he had the same qualifier. "It feels good right now but you really won't be able to tell until a game," he said.

For that reason, Hughes is looking forward to the step he'll take this weekend in seeing hitters. Doing that, he said, tells a pitcher "how it's coming out and how they're seeing it."

Hughes also said: "It's easier to locate when no one's in the batter's box."

Hughes said if Saturday's session goes well, he thinks he'll be ready for a rehab start. Girardi said he'll leave that decision up to trainer Gene Monahan, Rothschild and the medical staff.

"I'll let Geno and Larry and our doctors decide if he needs another one after that or if he's ready to go," Girardi said. "That's their specialty. The fact that he got up and threw an inning was encouraging to me. That he could actually sit down and get back up and feel good. Does he need two BP sessions? I don't know."

More Yankees headlines