TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Phil Hughes keeps hearing the trade rumors. If the Yankees acquire Johan Santana from Minnesota, Hughes wound wind up with the Twins,
``I try to avoid the rumors best I can, but you eventually here it from friends, family and the whole deal,'' Hughes said after working out Friday at the Yankees' minor league complex. ``You never want to hear your name out there, but on the other side, at least it's good to know that other teams think highly of you. I wouldn't say tough winter, but definitely an interesting one.''
Hughes, a 21-year-old right-hander, hasn't talked with team officials in Tampa about the trade possibility since his named surfaced in talks in November.
``I actually heard my name out there for the first time from my dad,'' Hughes said. ``Then I just called my agent to see if there's anything to it, and found there was. That's the exact of the contact I've had.''
Hughes is focused on the one thing he can control, preparing for the 2008 season. He started a throwing program four weeks ago.
``I want to get on a mound before spring training starts, and maybe get four or five bullpens in,'' Hughes said. ``Physically, everything is good.''
Hughes made his major league debut on April 26 last year and threw 6 1-3 no-hit innings at Texas five days later before hurting his hamstring. After losing additional time to an ankle injury, Hughes finished with a 5-3 record and a 4.46 ERA. He was 3-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his final four starts and also threw 3 2-3 scoreless innings for a playoff win over Cleveland out of the bullpen.
Two other pitching prospects, Humberto Sanchez and Andrew Brackman, are taking part in throwing programs after elbow ligament replacement surgery last year.
Sanchez, one of three pitchers obtained from Detroit for outfielder Gary Sheffield, expects to throw off a mound by late next month.
``It's going well,'' Sanchez said. ``So far, so good. We're on the right track. Hopefully there are no setbacks.''
Sanchez, who had surgery April 18, could be ready for minor league games in May.
Brackman, the Yankees' first round pick in the 2007 amateur draft, is scheduled to start throwing from 90 feet next week. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound right-hander from North Carolina State had surgery on Aug. 24 and was expected to be sidelined 12-to-18 months.

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