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Hughes pleased with progress on changeup

Twins righty allows three homers vs. O's, but goes five innings
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The linescore for Phil Hughes wasn't pretty with three homers allowed in five innings, but the right-hander said he spent his outing trying to hone his changeup and came away pleased despite the results in the Twins' 8-6 loss to the Orioles on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.

Hughes, coming off surgery in July to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, allowed four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts while reaching five frames for the first time this spring. He said he felt strong even in his final inning, and was also glad to see his velocity continue to creep up, as his fastball was at 88 mph in his first outing on Feb. 25, but was hitting 92 mph on Sunday.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The linescore for Phil Hughes wasn't pretty with three homers allowed in five innings, but the right-hander said he spent his outing trying to hone his changeup and came away pleased despite the results in the Twins' 8-6 loss to the Orioles on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.

Hughes, coming off surgery in July to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, allowed four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts while reaching five frames for the first time this spring. He said he felt strong even in his final inning, and was also glad to see his velocity continue to creep up, as his fastball was at 88 mph in his first outing on Feb. 25, but was hitting 92 mph on Sunday.

"Overall, I was pleased, but obviously people are going to look at results and see the three home runs, which isn't great," Hughes said. "But they came on two changeups and a cutter, so I'll take it. I know the changeup needs to be down, but they were up. Overall, I'm happy with the progress I'm making with my command and my velocity coming back a little bit."

Hughes, who had a 5.95 ERA in 12 outings before undergoing surgery last year, said he's consistently tinkered with his repertoire over the years, and adding the changeup is a way for him to get better. The changeup is a pitch that Hughes rarely threw last year, as he went from throwing it 4.8 percent of the time in 2015 to 2.6 percent of the time in '16.

"It's a good pitch for anybody," Hughes said. "I feel like throughout the course of my career I'm always evolving and changing. You're always trying to stay ahead. I've had my struggles the last couple years, and I'm not satisfied with just getting better because of surgery or something like that."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Phil Hughes