Hughes delivers impressive outing

Hughes delivers impressive outing

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- On Friday, Minnesota starter Phil Hughes looked like the pitcher the Twins hoped he would be when they signed him to a five-year, $58 million extension in 2015.

He picked up the victory in a 4-2 win against Tampa Bay, in what was his best start of the spring. In five scoreless innings, he allowed two hits, while striking out four and walking one. Hughes pitched to contact, induced ground balls and even got a few swing-and-misses out of hitters.

"I was pretty efficient with what I was trying to do and got some early outs and a double play to finish things up, so it was a good sign," Hughes said.

Best of all, he felt good, physically, while he was throwing a fastball that routinely hit the 90 mph mark.

"Obviously, you take that with a grain of salt depending on what ballpark you are in and all that stuff," Hughes said of his velocity. "That's not something I am overly concerned with right now. It's more so just throwing all my pitches and locating. The velocity is something I may look at [in the final start] before we break."

Hughes is trying to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2016 that included surgery to remove a rib to relieve nerve impingement caused by thoracic outlet syndrome.

"He's just trying to get back on track and doing the things that he has done at times in his career," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We've seen him doing really, really well and times when he's struggled."

Prior to Friday's outing, Hughes had allowed seven earned runs in nine innings. Opponents were hitting .375 against the veteran. He also surrendered an uncharacteristic three walks compared to just five strikeouts in that span.

"Pitching-wise, I'm not seeing a huge change other than him trying to get more confidence in that split-finger-change that he's been throwing and working on this spring," Molitor said.

Worth noting

• Twins pitcher Trevor May will visit with Dr. Keith Meister, an orthopedic surgeon based in Texas, on Tuesday to get a second opinion on his ailing elbow, general manager Thad Levine announced on Friday. Molitor wasn't optimistic.

"Tentatively, they are talking about doing the surgery on that Wednesday so that kind of tells you where that's most likely headed," Molitor said.

May, who was in camp competing for the last spot in the rotation, injured his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow during last week's start against Team USA. Should the injury require Tommy John surgery, he would miss the entire 2017 season.

Before the injury, May had allowed one earned run with three strikeouts and two walks in four innings of work.

• Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who led the team last season with 42 home runs, connected on his first homer of the spring on Friday. Dozier connected on a 3-1 fastball off Rays reliever Diego Moreno with two men on, which cleared the boardwalk of Charlotte Sports Park in straightaway left field.

Dozier finished the day 1-for-3 with three RBIs.

"He's had a bit of a tough time finding the timing he wants to have, but he hasn't been off by a lot," Molitor said.

Scott Butherus is a contributor to and covered the Twins on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.