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Hughes in line to return to rotation April 11

Santana progressing as well, returned to light throwing this week
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

BALTIMORE -- Twins right-hander Phil Hughes, who opened the season on the 10-day disabled list due to a left oblique strain, threw four innings in a Minor League game in Florida on Friday and could return to the rotation once the club needs a fifth starter on April 11.

Hughes reached an estimated 50 pitches against Triple-A Pawtucket, and his next outing is tentatively scheduled for the home opener for Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Thursday. If all goes to plan, Hughes could rejoin Minnesota as the fifth member of the rotation after his next Minor League outing.

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BALTIMORE -- Twins right-hander Phil Hughes, who opened the season on the 10-day disabled list due to a left oblique strain, threw four innings in a Minor League game in Florida on Friday and could return to the rotation once the club needs a fifth starter on April 11.

Hughes reached an estimated 50 pitches against Triple-A Pawtucket, and his next outing is tentatively scheduled for the home opener for Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Thursday. If all goes to plan, Hughes could rejoin Minnesota as the fifth member of the rotation after his next Minor League outing.

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"The health part was good," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We'll see how he responds to that tomorrow, with the possibility of coming back and pitching the Miracle's opener on [Thursday]."

The news on Hughes is more positive than for right-hander Ervin Santana, who began playing light catch this week for the first time since undergoing surgery on his right middle finger in early February. Santana must continue to build up arm strength, and a return in late April is highly unlikely. He's much more likely to return in May, which puts him a tick behind the original prognosis.

"It's an obvious concern because of the lack of doing what he'd normally be doing to be ready to perform at this level," Molitor said. "I know they're doing things to keep his shoulder strong and whatever else they need to be doing, as best they can. But there's nothing like doing reps and building arm strength by throwing. That's why we'll be cautious about how fast we move this thing along."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Phil Hughes