Twins’ Hughes hurts shoulder in winter ball

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Twins infielder Luke Hughes injured his right shoulder while playing in his native Australia this winter, and he’ll be out three to four weeks as a result.

Hughes, 27, was playing for the Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League this winter. He hurt his shoulder while sliding into home during his team’s semifinal game earlier this month.

“Being so close to spring training (later this month), and knowing how many injuries (the Twins) had last year, they want me 100 percent right,” Hughes told The Sunday Times in Perth. “I have to think about my career in the States first and hopefully I’ll get another opportunity to play with the Heat in another grand final.”

The Twins initially feared Hughes’ injury was worse. General manager Terry Ryan said the expected rehab timetable of three to four weeks was a sigh of relief.

“It’s about as good of news as I could have hoped in this situation,” Ryan said Friday. “You always think of the worst, and this is pretty good under the circumstances.”

The Twins’ first full-squad spring training workout in Fort Myers, Fla., will be Feb. 24. Minnesota’s first spring training game is March 3 against Tampa Bay — three weeks from Saturday.

Hughes played in 96 games with the Twins last season after making his big league debut in 2010. In 2011, he batted .223 with 30 RBI and seven homers in 287 at-bats. The versatile infielder played first, second and third base.

In 19 games with Perth this winter, Hughes batted .344 in 64 at-bats, driving in 13 runs while hitting four homers and eight doubles.

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