- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes had an epidural shot Wednesday to relieve pain associated with back spasms and will not be available to pitch until Sunday at the earliest, according to general manager Brian Cashman.
Hughes was scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday afternoon due to lingering pain from the spams, which first flared up after a bullpen session last Friday.
Cashman said that the spasms are the result of a herniated disk that Hughes suffered in 2004.
"He's been getting better ... but today they decided to be more proactive because it wasn't getting better quick enough," Cashman said.
Cashman cautioned that Hughes' latest medical development "is not that serious" and could have been remedied by extended rest. But given that the Yankees are eight games away from the end of the regular season, team doctors decided to be proactive and give the 25-year-old an epidural.
An MRI taken earlier Wednesday revealed the inflammation. Hughes left Yankee Stadium after Wednesday's afternoon game to rest and relax at home.
Cashman believes Hughes will be available in the postseason. If healthy, it is unclear whether Hughes will be used as a reliever or a starter.
The Yankees GM also hoped Hughes would be able to pitch either Sunday against Boston or during the final three games of the season against Tampa Bay. He would likely have to throw a bullpen session before returning to the mound.
The back spasms are the latest setback in what has been a difficult season for Hughes.
He was placed on the disabled list in May with a mysterious right shoulder inflammation that sapped his fastball velocity. After a three-month DL stint, Hughes returned in July and went 5-4 with a 4.67 ERA in 11 starts before the spams.
Hector Noesi took Hughes' turn on Wednesday afternoon and lasted into only the third inning.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.