Thursday, August 21, 2014

Injured starter Masahiro Tanaka took another big step in his road back to the big leagues on Wednesday, throwing a 35 pitch bullpen session off of the mound at Yankee Stadium. Tanaka told reporters that the bullpen was “good” and “better” than his last time throwing, and more importantly, there was no pain in his right elbow.

This was also Tanaka's first time throwing something more than fastballs since he was shutdown in mid-July -- he threw his breaking ball, including five splitters.

As for what's up next for Tanaka and the Yankees, that is still unknown. We know for sure, though, that he won't be returning the the big league team this month, as Brian Cashman has said. Right now, a mid-September return seems very likely.

The next step for Tanaka, as long as the pain stays away, would normally be a live batting practice session, followed by some simulated games, and than minor league rehab starts.

"I don’t really have a realistic timeframe because I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves,” Girardi said. “But the next step would be throwing BP, then a simulated game, then obviously a rehab game. The fact that he felt good today was encouraging. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow; obviously that’s really important. But he was able to throw his curveball, his slider and his split; I watched it and he looked pretty good.”

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