NEW YORK -- Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn played catch without any issues on Wednesday, and he remains hopeful he'll make his next start on Tuesday against the Red Sox.

Blackburn is missing his scheduled start against the Yankees on Thursday because he's been dealing with shoulder stiffness stemming from his outing against the Rangers on Saturday.

But he took a positive step forward by playing catch from 120 feet on Wednesday, and even threw a few breaking balls from 90 feet without any discomfort.

"I felt good," Blackburn said. "I didn't feel anything in that original spot of tightness or anything. I've still got some tender areas, but we're also doing a whole lot of probing and exercises I'm not used to doing. So I went out there and threw, and it felt great. I feel every day is a pretty good improvement."

Blackburn's next step is a light bullpen on Friday and a full bullpen on Sunday to get ready for Tuesday's start.

"He didn't feel anything and there were no limitations whatsoever," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He basically told us he really believes 100 percent he'll start Tuesday."

Twins designate Hughes for assignment

NEW YORK -- To make room for Wednesday night's starting pitcher, Jason Marquis, the Twins designated infielder Luke Hughes for assignment.

Marquis was recalled following two starts with Double-A New Britain to get ready for the season after missing two weeks of Spring Training to tend to his 7-year-old daughter, Reese, who was seriously injured in a bicycle accident in Staten Island.

Hughes, 27, was the odd man out, as he didn't see much playing time despite a strong showing during Spring Training. He appeared in just four games, hitting .200 with two RBIs while seeing time at second base, third base and first base.

The Twins have 10 days to trade Hughes, release him or pass him through waivers. If he goes through waivers unclaimed, he could be optioned to Triple-A Rochester.

"We needed to carry 13 pitchers and we had a couple decisions to make, and this is the decision we made," said Twins general manager Terry Ryan. "I'm not going to get into individuals and playing one guy against another, because it's not fair to him or other players. It's just the decision we came to."

Hughes played in 96 games with the Twins last season, hitting .223 with seven homers, 12 doubles and 24 walks in 317 plate appearances. He said he was surprised by the decision and is looking to get a chance with another club.

"I hope to stay in the big leagues," Hughes said. "Hopefully some team values what I do and that I get an opportunity to go out and play. If that doesn't happen, we'll have to go through the process of what to do. Do I want to be back here again? I have no idea. I haven't really thought about it. Fingers crossed, someone values what I can do and I can go out there and play. Obviously the next few days will be interesting. I guess it's a waiting game now."

Hughes, a native of Australia, was signed by the Twins in 2002 as an amateur free agent. He's a career .224 hitter with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 102 Major League games and a career .268 hitter with 60 homers and 316 RBIs in 628 Minor League games.

Perkins cleared, rejoins Twins in New York

NEW YORK -- Reliever Glen Perkins received good news, as he was cleared by team physician Dr. Dan Buss to throw 40 pitches in a bullpen session at Target Field on Wednesday morning, and flew to New York in time for the Twins' game against the Yankees.

Perkins had been dealing with inflammation in his left forearm dating back to his relief appearance on Sunday, but after two days of rest and medicine, the inflammation went away.

"We got great news on Perk," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He threw a 40-pitch session out there in the bullpen there in Minnesota, and everything went great. He didn't feel anything, and the doctor said he looks great."

Perkins is expected to be available to pitch in relief on Thursday. He last pitched against the Rangers on Sunday, and allowed three runs without recording an out.

Worth noting

• Twins pitching prospect Carlos Gutierrez was placed on the Minor League disabled list with irritation in his right labrum, according to Twins general manager Terry Ryan. Gutierrez is scheduled to head to Fort Myers, Fla., this week to begin rehab.

• Ryan said he talked to Scott Baker on Wednesday, a day after the right-hander underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. Ryan said that Baker was doing fine after surgery, and is heading to Minnesota this week to start his rehab process.

• Sean Burroughs made his second start of the season at third base on Wednesday against the Yankees to give Danny Valencia a break. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Burroughs needs to get playing time, as he entered Wednesday's game with just five at-bats so far this season.