TAMPA, Fla. -- Phil Hughes didn't turn in the sharpest pitching line from his outing against the Pirates' Class A West Virginia lineup, but the Yankees right-hander is just pleased to be back on the mound.
Hughes is working toward rejoining the Yankees' rotation after being sidelined with a bulging disk in his upper back earlier in camp. He allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits over three innings to the Bucs' farm club.
"I feel great, which is goal No. 1," Hughes said. "I got up to  pitches, so I was happy with that. I would have liked to go more than three innings, but it is what it is and hopefully the next one I'm a little bit better, a little bit cleaner out there."
Hughes struck out three and walked none while permitting a home run, tossing 34 pitches for strikes. It seems probable that Hughes will begin the year on the disabled list and miss the first turn through the rotation, rejoining the club on April 6 at the earliest, but general manager Brian Cashman said that decision has not been made yet.
"It's possible. He'll be a close call in the end," Cashman said. "I think he's certainly going in the right direction, but I think it's just a time issue for him. If it's better to start him and backdate him on the DL and have him ready for the next turn of the rotation, we could do that."
Hughes came into the spring with great expectations as the 26-year-old enters his final season under contract with the Yankees before being eligible for free agency. He had been working out at the Yankees' complex in Tampa well before the official report date for pitchers and catchers.
"I was really excited about my prospects for this year, because even in my bullpens I was feeling really, really good," Hughes said. "Then I had to take two weeks off and not do anything, which was tough. Conditioning is part of it, but mentally, I'm just trying to get back and not rush myself."
Rapada likely to begin season on disabled list
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees reliever Clay Rapada is expected to begin the season on the disabled list as he returns from left shoulder bursitis.
Rapada threw 15 fastballs from the mound on Friday, but said that he needs to be able to pitch effectively three or four days in a row to help the big league club. Rapada believes he can be ready in April.
"I can be a small piece to the winning puzzle, but if I'm not fully recovered, I don't want to set back the team more," Rapada said. "If I can't go back-to-back days, I feel like I'd put a lot more strain. I don't feel like I'm very far off, but I don't expect it to be long."
Rapada, 32, was 3-0 with a 2.82 ERA in 70 appearances for New York last season, spanning 38 1/3 innings.
"He'll start the season on the DL. He's not on the DL officially yet," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "In terms of time frame, he's going to need a little bit of April, so he won't be ready. But he'll be ready, I think, pretty quickly."
Rapada's injury could improve the chances of right-handers Cody Eppley or Shawn Kelley making the Opening Day roster, and manager Joe Girardi also said that left-hander Vidal Nuno could be a possibility. Boone Logan is the only lefty locked into the Yankees' bullpen at the moment.
"We're still talking about it," Cashman said. "Obviously, Nuno has opened everybody's eyes and is taking a run at it, trying to force his way on. We'll go with one lefty or we'll go with two."
Boesch scratched from lineup with stiff rib cage
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Seven days after the Yankees signed him, outfielder Brennan Boesch found himself like so many of his teammates: sidelined.
Boesch made the two-hour trip from Tampa, Fla., to Fort Myers on Friday morning for an afternoon game with the Twins, but he was scratched before the 9-7 win because of a sore left rib cage. Boesch said he "wouldn't classify this as an injury." Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Boesch will be off until Tuesday.
The long ride wasn't the culprit, but Girardi would have preferred Boesch not traveled. Boesch felt discomfort beforehand, something he and Girardi said should have come up.
"Just a little soreness from probably taking a lot of swings the last couple days," Boesch said. "I felt it before [the ride], but I figured with a little heat and moving around that I'd be fine, and I didn't get that chance to do that. Wasn't my call, but I understand. In hindsight, probably should've spoke up before I got on the bus, but I wanted to play."
Said Girardi after the game: "He wouldn't have made a two-hour and 15-minute trip. Not very smart on his part. Now he's got [two hours and 15 minutes] back."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in Tampa that Boesch had asked the training staff for a heat pack when he got off the bus, which raised a red flag. Cashman said that Boesch would not be scheduled to have an MRI on Friday, but did not rule it out for Saturday.
"I don't think he described it as significant, but we banged him just as a precaution," Cashman said. "He won't play today or tomorrow."
Friday was a day game after a night game for Boesch and the Yankees. He went 0-for-3 on Thursday in a 5-1 loss to the Twins in Tampa.
The Yanks signed Boesch after he was released by the Tigers, hoping he could fill an outfield vacancy with Curtis Granderson expected to be sidelined until early May due to injury.
"He's in the mix for one of the outfield positions. We want to get him back in there as soon as possible," Girardi said. "But we don't want to hurt him."
Boesch also tweaked his right oblique in February while he was in Detroit's camp, which negatively impacted his chances of making the club. Cashman and Boesch said the injuries were not related.
"I'm not in a position to be worried," Cashman said. "We'll just deal with it. Whatever it is, you've just got to deal with it, whether it's small or large. We'll know more tomorrow."
Nova not pleased with his outing against Twins
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Back-to-back home runs and poor fastball control did not further Ivan Nova's rotation candidacy Friday in a 9-7 Yankees win over the Twins.
"I'm not happy," said Nova, who allowed five runs -- four earned -- in 5 1/3 innings. "I don't like the way I threw the ball today. I was behind on the hitters almost every time."
Nova's allowed a combined eight earned runs in 11 innings over his last two outings, after he allowed just one run in his first three Grapefruit League appearances. Friday's outing was worse than Sunday's against Pittsburgh, he felt, because he had better control against the Pirates. He gave up four runs in six innings in the Pittsburgh game.
The big blows on Friday came from Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit, who went deep in succession in the second inning at Hammond Stadium.
"[He] made some mistakes with his fastballs, just got too much of the plate today," Yanks manager Joe Girardi said. "[I] didn't think his curveball was quite as sharp as it's been [earlier] in Spring Training. But the trouble he got in was with his fastball."
Nova said his new shortened delivery felt good. He and David Phelps are up for the fifth-starter's job, but Nova said knowing he has a job on the line doesn't add to his frustration.
"I want to pitch good, even if I'm not in the competition," Nova said. "All I want to do is get ready for the season and do my best. When you don't do your best, you don't feel good. I don't feel good especially. I'm not worried about any competition or anything -- my competition's with myself."
• Hiroki Kuroda pitched in a Minor League game on Friday for Class A Tampa, tossing seven scoreless innings and scattering seven hits against the Pirates' Class A Bradenton lineup. Kuroda walked none and struck out five, tossing 65 of 88 pitches for strikes.
• Francisco Cervelli caught Kuroda in the game for Class A Tampa and went 1-for-4 with a single and a walk. Travis Hafner had at-bats in two Minor League games on Friday, going 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and two walks.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.