Results aside, Hughes ready for regular season

Results aside, Hughes ready for regular season

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- By the time the last week of Spring Training rolls around, the main goal for most players is to get through the rest of the spring and into the start of the regular season healthy. Twins right-hander Phil Hughes is no different.

Although he took the loss as the Twins fell to the Red Sox, 4-0, on Friday afternoon, Hughes was satisfied.

"Yeah, the main thing was staying healthy," Hughes said after his fifth and final Grapefruit League outing. "To be able to go through the regular process of building arm strength and innings, pitches, games, the whole deal was my main goal this spring, and I accomplished that and I feel like I'm kind of ahead of the game and ready to go."

Manager Ron Gardenhire was also satisfied with what he saw.

"Velocity-wise, fastball's coming out of his hands real good," said Gardenhire. "He got ahead in some counts and tried to throw some breaking balls that they got on in a couple of innings out there that he just didn't get them where he wanted to. But velocity's good. His arm strength's good. ... We like the way he's throwing."

Hughes went 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits and a walk with two strikeouts. In all, Hughes pitched 19 innings this spring, allowing 12 runs (10 earned) on 26 hits and four walks with 12 strikeouts.

"I'm ready to go," said Hughes. "The pitch count is up. Obviously [I] went through a couple struggles here the last couple of outings, but that is going to happen and that is good to go through some adversity. Stuff-wise, I feel good, and I'm extended to where I can throw 100 pitches, so I'm ready."

Hughes gave up a leadoff home run to Mike Napoli in the sixth inning, the second home run he allowed this spring.

"I tried to bury it in the zone and he didn't get it, but the way the wind was blowing today, it's going to happen," Hughes said. "I'm going to have to make a better pitch there. The curveball was the one thing that did me in a little bit today, just failure to execute that pitch. But everything else I felt really good with, changeups, cutters. ... The fastball was good."

Hughes, who joined the Twins as a free agent in the offseason on a three-year deal, likes how the pitching staff is situated going into the season.

"The bullpen is great. The bullpen was [great] last year," said Hughes. "The starting pitching was kind of the thing that needed improving. With the way the guys are going now, we have a chance to be pretty good. You've got some veteran guys in this rotation that know what it takes to win and go out and give you a quality start every time out.

"It boils down to staying healthy. We have to get everybody going and rolling out there every five days, giving us a chance to win every time we take the ball. We are going to have to take pride in that fact, taking the ball every fifth day and try to have 30-plus starts and going out there and try to have 30-plus starts and go out there and do a really solid job and keep us in games."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.