MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota right-hander Phil Hughes is headed to the disabled list with a back injury, a tough break for the Twins, who are in the thick of the American League Wild Card hunt.
Hughes is 10-8 this season with a 4.49 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP -- a significant dropoff from his revelatory first season in Minnesota. On Sunday in Cleveland, Hughes lasted only three innings, allowing seven earned runs on nine hits.
Manager Paul Molitor was asked about Hughes' health after that start, but said Thursday they didn't know anything was wrong with Hughes' back until Tuesday. Molitor said Hughes' bullpen was shut down "rather rapidly." The Twins had an MRI done, and it revealed inflammation in his lower back.
Hughes was given an epidural on Thursday and the Twins said that it went fine. Hughes dealt with the same issue in 2011 when he was with the Yankees, and Molitor said the shot had been fairly successful in alleviating symptoms in the past.
"I felt it a little in Cleveland and it got worse during my bullpen on Tuesday," said Hughes. "I will rest for a few days before getting back to baseball activities as soon as possible."
General manager Terry Ryan said the Twins think they will have Hughes back in 15 days. In the meantime, Trevor May, who was bumped from the rotation when Ervin Santana came back from serving an 80-game performance enhancing drug suspension, will make at least two starts. May, who hasn't started a game in the second half of the season, will start on Friday on a limited pitch count.
Tyler Duffey will start Saturday after being sent to Triple-A Rochester last week, and Tommy Milone, who will be activated from the disabled list, will get the ball on Sunday.
In nine big league seasons, Hughes is 82-68 with a 4.34 ERA.
Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.