Yankees' Tanaka expected to start Sunday against Blue Jays

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Masahiro Tanaka's long-anticipated return is almost here, and the New York Yankees are hoping it hasn't come too late for their fading playoff chances.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Tanaka is tentatively scheduled to start Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays. It would be the first time the right-hander took to a big-league mound since July 8. Girardi told reporters Tuesday that Tanaka will be on a 70-75 pitch limit.

Tanaka elected to rehab his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, rather than have surgery, in an effort to come back to the majors before the end of the year and potentially help the Yankees' playoff push. 

At this point, the outing appears more notable for the player than the team. With the Yankees six back of the American League's second wild-card spot, attention will likely focus on the condition of Tanaka's elbow and whether it requires offseason surgery.

Tanaka hasn't reported any significant setbacks with the club's rehab program, paving the way for his first start in more than two months.

Before the injury, the 25-year-old Japanese import posted a 2.51 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 135 strikeouts in 129 1/3 innings this season.

Feature photo courtesy of Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Sept 15, 5:21 PM

Girardi says it's 'very possible' Tanaka's next outing will be for Yankees

Sept 15, 5:21 PM

It feels like Masahiro Tanaka has been "nearing a return" from a partially torn elbow ligament for weeks. 

But after his latest step in the intensive recovery process – a five-inning simulated game on Monday – it's looking increasingly likely that the Yankees' rookie ace will indeed be back on the mound before season's end. At least, that's what Yankees manager Joe Girardi would have you believe. 

There was a good deal of skepticism around the league when, after the tear was revealed, Tanaka and the Yankees declared their plan to shun surgery and go the rehab route. 

With just 14 games left in the regular season and the Yankees' playoff hopes all but dead, the prudence of that course of action is still up for debate.  

Sept 15, 3:26 PM

Yankees' Tanaka 'closer' to return after simulated game, could rejoin rotation this weekend

Sept 15, 3:26 PM

New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka took another significant step Monday in his recovery from a torn elbow ligament, and could rejoin the rotation as soon as this weekend.

"I do feel I'm closer to being game-ready," Tanaka told ESPN through his translator.

Tanaka, who last took the mound for the Yankees on July 8, threw five scoreless innings in a simulated game against minor leaguers Monday, collecting four strikeouts while allowing six hits.

"As far as my performance goes, I think it is gradually getting better," Tanaka said. "It is not really a regular-season game atmosphere. It is little bit hard for me to get up to there."

Tanaka said a decision about a possible return date could come Tuesday afternoon after he gauges how his arm responds and he consults with manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

Sept 10, 7:13 PM

Yankees' Tanaka to face minor leaguers in simulated game

Sept 10, 7:13 PM

NEW YORK - Injured Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka is going to face minor leaguers in a simulated game Monday in what may be the final step of his rehabilitation from a partially torn elbow ligament.

New York manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday that Tanaka felt good a day after a simulated game at Yankee Stadium. If all goes smoothly in Tampa, Florida, the Japanese All-Star could next pitch in the major leagues for the first time since July 8. That start could come in the Bronx against Toronto on Sept. 20 or 21.

The Yankees want Tanaka to test his arm against big league hitters to assess their decision to have the 25-year-old right-hander forgo ligament replacement surgery and instead try rest and therapy. Tommy John surgery is the common treatment for the injury and recovery time is usually 12-18 months.

Tanaka is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in his first major league season.

Sept 10, 10:17 AM

Yankees, Tanaka eyeing return in Sept. 18-21 series vs. Blue Jays

Sept 10, 10:17 AM

Masahiro Tanaka may end up being a few starts too late, but the New York Yankees appear intent on trotting him out to the mound before season's end.

The star Japanese hurler is expected to throw either a simulated or instructional league game Sunday, and could pitch five days later against the Toronto Blue Jays according to manager Joe Girardi, via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

Based on that timetable, Tanaka projects to make only two starts for New York, a club rapidly seeing its postseason hopes fade into mid-September.

Tanaka spent the month of August building up his arm strength after landing on the disabled list July 9 with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament.

He has authored a 12-4 record with a sterling 2.51 ERA, 1.005 WHIP and 7.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first 18 big league starts.

Sept 9, 7:48 PM

Yankees' Tanaka improving, nearing big-league return

Sept 9, 7:48 PM

The New York Yankees remain optimistic Masahiro Tanaka will rejoin the club before the season ends after an encouraging simulated start Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Tanaka, whose rehab was delayed after experiencing general arm soreness following a bullpen session in Detroit on Aug. 28, threw 45 pitches over three innings prior to the Yankees' series opener against Tampa Bay.

"I thought he was better than Detroit," manager Joe Girardi said, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "I thought his stuff was sharper, I thought there was more velocity, I thought there was better command."

Girardi also provided details of the next steps in Tanaka's rehab, which includes a bullpen session, followed by another simulated game and, if all goes well, his return to a major-league mound.

"I think he wants to feel that he can go home and have a normal offseason and he can be healthy and come back," Girardi said. "I do believe it's important to him."

The Yankees right-hander is attempting to avoid elbow surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm. 

Tanaka last took the hill July 8 at Cleveland, allowing five runs on 10 hits in his worst outing of the year. The 25-year-old rookie pitched to a 2.51 ERA and 1.01 WHIP across 129 1/3 innings this season.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Noah K. Murray

Sept 6, 12:52 PM

Yankees' Tanaka 'feels much stronger and the fatigue is gone'

Sept 6, 12:52 PM

New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka is hoping to return to the rotation before the team's postseason aspirations have completely slipped away.

Tanaka continues to rehab after landing on disabled list July 9 with elbow fatigue and after a recent setback, the Yankees have reason to be optimistic that he'll pitch again this season.

Tanaka would provide the Yankees injury-plagued rotation with a boost entering the final stretch. In his first season in the majors, the 25-year-old owns a 12-4 record to go with a 2.51 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 129 1/3 innings.

New York's playoff hopes are fleeting, as a 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals dropped them 4 1/2-games back in the wild card hunt with 23 games remaining.

Sept 4, 6:04 PM

Yankees' Tanaka to throw bullpen session Saturday

Sept 4, 6:04 PM

New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka is set to resume his throwing program.

Tanaka, who was placed on the disabled list July 9 with elbow inflammation, experienced elbow fatigue during his first rehab attempt.

The Yankees are hopeful the 25-year-old can rejoin the rotation for a late playoff push, so the performance of the team over the next couple of weeks will determine how aggressively the Bronx Bombers push him.

The Yankees enter play Thursday four games back of the Detroit Tigers for the second and final American League wild-card spot.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports /Anthony Gruppuso

Sept 2, 4:33 PM

Yankees' Tanaka still scheduled to throw this week despite 'arm fatigue'

Sept 2, 4:33 PM

The New York Yankees continue to push for a September return for starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and his latest setback reportedly won't throw off his rehabilitation.

Manager Joe Girardi told ESPN, "Every manual test that they did came out really well. They just said he had some arm fatigue and he is scheduled to throw a bullpen sometime this week. Hopefully, he is ready to do it."

Tanaka has been battling elbow inflammation since July 9th when he was placed on the disabled list.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Adam Hunger

Aug 31, 2:25 PM

Girardi slams Blue Jays' training facility after sending Tanaka back to New York

Aug 31, 2:25 PM

Injured right-hander Masahiro Tanaka was sent back to New York on Saturday to continue his rehab program, and manager Joe Girardi suggests it's due to inferior training facilities at Rogers Centre.

The team announced Tanaka would return to New York two days ahead of the Yankees, who wrap up a three-game series in Toronto on Sunday. Tanaka has been rehabbing his partially torn elbow ligament in anticipation of returning to a major-league mound this season. 

One day after admitting the rookie preferred to work out at Yankee Stadium as he deals with general arm soreness, Girardi sounded off on reporters who questioned why he would travel north of the border in the first place.

From the Canadian Press, via Sportsnet:

"The facilities are better there and that’s why we sent him back," said Girardi. "I know you get upset but, I mean, I told you why we did it. We’re not hiding anything."

When a reporter insisted that they weren’t upset, but that they thought it was an unusual move, Girardi became more animated.

"Has anyone seen the weight room? It’s about as big as this area we’re in right now, this little room," said Girardi, gesturing to the crowded visitors’ dugout. "It doesn’t have a SwimEx. It doesn’t have all the modalities. I mean, I told you, I’m concerned about him. I am concerned about him.

"We just felt it was more productive for him to be there."

Tanaka is scheduled to play catch for the next several days with a mound session targeted for Thursday.

Aug 29, 4:48 PM

Report: Yankees' Tanaka experiencing 'general soreness' in right arm

Aug 29, 4:48 PM

Masahiro Tanaka has reportedly suffered a setback in his crusade toward the New York Yankees' mound.

The Yankees were optimistic their ace would be available for a final-month push after Tanaka threw 49 pitches in a simulated game Thursday, but it appears that his arm has responded adversely to the increased load.

New York remains three games behind the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners in the wild card chase.

Aug 28, 11:17 AM

Yankees' Tanaka throws 49-pitch sim game; Girardi 'optimistic' about September return

Aug 28, 11:17 AM

The New York Yankees will soon have starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka back on the mound after he pitched a simulated game Thursday morning.

Tanaka threw 49 pitches and told reporters he is "worry free" in regards to throwing his splitter.

Tanaka was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation July 9.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Kim Klement

Aug 23, 12:23 PM

Yankees' Tanaka tests elbow against batters, feels good

Aug 23, 12:23 PM

NEW YORK - Masahiro Tanaka says his injured elbow felt fine after facing batters for the first time in more than a month.

New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild and manager Joe Girardi were pleased with Japanese All-Star's 35-pitch effort Saturday morning. Tanaka has been trying to work his way back from a partial ligament tear in his right elbow rather than face season-ending surgery.

In front of several dozen reporters and photographers, he faced teammates Brendan Ryan and Zelous Wheeler in a two-inning simulated game. Rothschild says Tanaka threw all of his pitches, including his devastating splitter.

Tanaka says he didn't have his best command but had no trouble with the elbow.

The Yankees will wait to see how Tanaka feels Sunday before deciding the next step.

Aug 21, 11:50 AM

Yankees' Tanaka to face hitters Saturday

Aug 21, 11:50 AM

New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will face hitters in live batting practice on Saturday for the first time since suffering a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, according to manager Joe Girardi.

The 25-year-old threw 35 pitches in a Wednesday bullpen session and said through his interpreter that he was feeling "rusty."

Tanaka went 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 18 starts before his elbow injury, and the Yankees hope the rehab route will get the Japanese star back to form. He could still potentially help the club in September.

Aug 20, 6:09 PM

Yankees' Tanaka throws 35-pitch bullpen session, feels 'a little bit rusty'

Aug 20, 6:09 PM

New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Wednesday, which included a mix of fastballs, curveballs, sliders and splitters.

"It went well, but it was actually my first time throwing breaking balls – something other than fastballs – in the bullpen, so I felt it was a little bit rusty," Tanaka said after the session via interpreter. "I'll have to brush that up a little bit."

The next step for Tanaka, who has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, could be throwing live batting practice or a simulated game. If he continues to progress without a setback, a minor-league stint would be next followed by a return to the club in September.

"The fact that he felt good today was encouraging," manager Joe Girardi said. "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."

The Yankees enter play Wednesday 8 1/2 games back of the Baltimore Orioles for the American League East lead and four games out of a wild-card spot.

Aug 16, 1:52 PM

Yankees' Tanaka looked 'fine' in 1st bullpen session

Aug 16, 1:52 PM

New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka took another step toward making his big-league return, completing his first bullpen session Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Tanaka, who was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament following his July 8 start in Cleveland, avoided season-ending surgery by undertaking a six-week throwing program.

So far, the results from Saturday are encouraging.

The Yankees remain cautiously optimistic the 25-year-old rookie will re-join the club in time to make two-to-three September starts.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Noah K. Murray

Aug 15, 4:39 PM

Yankees' Tanaka to throw 1st bullpen session Saturday

Aug 15, 4:39 PM

New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka continues to make positive strides in his rehab from a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

The plan is for Tanaka to throw 25 pitches off a mound, and how he responds will dictate the team's course of action. The Yankees are hopeful the 12-game winner will be able to return to the rotation in September.

New York enters play Friday eight games off the pace in the American League East and four games back of the final AL wild-card spot.

Aug 13, 5:53 PM

Report: Yankees' Tanaka throws 10 pitches with no pain

Aug 13, 5:53 PM

New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka continues to progress with his throwing program, reports WFAN's Sweeny Murti.

It was the first max-effort throwing session for Tanaka since partially tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in July. He's previously thrown from 60 and 90 feet, and appears to be on track for a September return.

The Yankees (61-57) enter play Wednesday only 2 1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners for the final American League wild-card spot.

Aug 12, 9:18 AM

Yankees' Tanaka advances throwing program to 90 feet

Aug 12, 9:18 AM

New York Yankees hurler Masahiro Tanaka is taking his rehab program for a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament on the road with the team.

The right-hander made 50 tosses at 90 feet at Camden Yards in Baltimore on Monday, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

"So far, so good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's not throwing pitches, but he's at 90 feet and he let it go a little bit today."

Tanaka is said to be pain-free, and his next step might happen as soon as Tuesday. He could toss from 120 feet. From there, the team can start thinking about flat ground, but Girardi doesn't have a timeline.

Feature photo courtesy of Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Aug 8, 6:02 PM

Yankees' Tanaka 'felt good' after throwing from 60 and 90 feet

Aug 8, 6:02 PM

The New York Yankees aren't expecting Masahiro Tanaka back before September; they're just hoping he returns this season. On Friday, they got more encouraging news.

Tanaka said he "felt good" after throwing from 60 and 90 feet before the club's series opener against Cleveland in the Bronx, one day after tossing in the outfield at the same distances.

It's another positive step for Tanaka, who has yet to report a setback from the rehab throwing program designed to help avoid Tommy John surgery on his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the 25-year-old rookie will throw again at 90 feet Saturday before taking a day of rest. The right-hander is expected to travel with the team to Baltimore next week to continue his rehab program.

Aug 6, 8:25 PM

Yankees GM: Tanaka won't be back before September

Aug 6, 8:25 PM

Although New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was pleased with Masahiro Tanaka's performance Wednesday during the second day of Tanaka's throwing program, Cashman doesn't expect the Japanese starter to return to the rotation before September.

The throwing program was designed to help prevent Tanaka from having to undergo Tommy John surgery on his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

“I’m happy the early return on rest and two throwing days on Tanaka have gone well,” Cashman said, via the New York Post.

While Cashman indicated a sense of nervousness within himself when Tanaka throws a ball, the true test will come when the 25-year-old takes the mound.

“Hopefully he can get on the mound at some point and really let loose and start stretching out to prepare for starts and that’s when I’ll start worrying less about it,” he said. “Right now, he’s still in that yellow flag mode of caution.”

Feature photo courtesy of Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports