This was supposed to be the pregame notes before the game but I was having an issue trying to post it (my WordPress app was not cooperating with me). So instead, I scrapped the other notes only applying to before the game and just left the main story: Masahiro Tanaka taking the next step in his return to the Yankees rotation.
Masahiro Tanaka has been defying the odds, leaping through every hurdle the Yankees have put in his way in order to make his return to the Yankees rotation. Today, he threw a live batting practice session to Brendan Ryan and Zelous Wheeler, almost in simulated game fashion. He threw 20 pitches, sat down as if to simulate the other half of an inning and then got back up to throw 15 more pitches. For the first time, Tanaka threw the splitter and Wheeler compared Tanaka’s stuff today to his stuff during Spring Training.
“I thought it was a good progression,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “As long as he’s healthy, his stuff’s in the right direction, being able to throw 35 pitches and do full warmups and everything. We’ll see how he comes in tomorrow, but he feels good afterwards so that’s a good sign.”
The elbow is almost a non-issue with Tanaka, as he’d rather talk about his pitches and location rather than the injury that sidelined him in the first place. While Tanaka’s off-speed pitches were rusty and he admitted he didn’t hit his spots, he did say he was ready to get into a game, and he’s ready to join the rotation as soon as possible.
“I thought (his strength and stamina) was good for the time off he’s had,” Rothschild said. “Overall I thought it was pretty good. It wasn’t where it was before he got hurt, but I didn’t expect it to be. This is another step in the progression so we’ll just keep going with it.”
Joe Girardi wouldn’t disclose what’s the next step for Tanaka was or a time table for his return, but if all goes well, we could see Masahiro Tanaka very soon.
“He’s going to have to make some rehab starts (eventually),” Joe Girardi said. “I’m not exactly sure how we’re going to be able to do it as we build him up because you’re going to run out of minor league season, but we’ll be creative enough to do whatever we have to do to get him ready.”