Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes warms up his arm at George...

Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes warms up his arm at George Steinbrenner Field on the first day of spring training in Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2013) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. - Injured pitcher Phil Hughes resumed his throwing program early Wednesday morning, playing long toss in the outfield.

The righthander, sidelined since Feb. 18 with two bulging discs in his upper back and a question mark to be ready by the start of the regular season, threw 25 times from 60 feet, then 25 from 90 feet.

Hughes, who said he continues to be encouraged by his progress, said he hopes to go through a similar routine over the next couple of days, then graduate to the mound by Saturday. His hope is to throw a 25-pitch bullpen side session Sunday or Monday.

After playing long toss here Monday, Hughes said while he had been pain-free for nearly a week, he understood, and backed, the Yankees' cautious approach with him.

"It's better to take the time in spring," Hughes said. "If this would have popped up in the middle of the season, it may have been a situation where I just get a shot, for a few days and get back at it. Because we have a little bit of time, I think I'm better off going this way to get it right and make sure it's not a reoccurring issue."

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