Masahiro Tanaka faced live hitters on Saturday before the Yankees game against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. Tanaka threw 35 pitches as he faced batters for the first time since injuring his elbow.
It was all good news for the Yankees rookie as he was able to throw all of his pitches, without any limitations. Tanaka faced Zelous Wheeler and Brendan Ryan as he threw 20 pitches without interruption. Tanaka took a five minute break and completed the outing with 15 additional pitches in front of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Larry Rothchild and a large group of media.
Tanaka reported no pain after the 35-pitch session and overall he was pleased with his performance on the mound. "I wasn't able to hit my spots as much as I wanted," Tanaka said. "I feel it's a little bit rusty. There were some good balls that I was able to throw. It was a good step, so I want to keep moving forward.
Pitching coach, Larry Rothchild watched Tanaka closely on Saturday and left feeling positive about his progress. "I thought it was a good progression as long as he's healthy," Rothchild said. "His stuff's in the right direction, being able to throw 35 pitches and do full warmups and everything. He's not that far from pitching in a game."
This was a big step in Tanaka's recovery as he remains in line for a return to the rotation in September. As he continues to build arm strength and stamina, the next step will be for Tanaka to begin a Minor League rehab assignment.
"He's going to have to make some rehab starts," Joe Girardi said. "I'm not sure exactly 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."
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