Injured Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka continues to try and rehab his way back from arm trouble, and on Saturday he will take the next step in that effort by throwing off a mound for the first time.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced before Friday’s game that Tanaka will throw 25 pitches in a bullpen session on Saturday. Tanaka’s Friday session saw the pitcher throwing for 12 minutes off level ground, fielding grounders and practicing pickoff throws to first base.
Tanaka has reported no pain throughout his recent sessions but taking it to the mound and throwing 25 pitches is ratcheting things up another notch. We’ll see how Tanaka’s arm responds throwing from the mound.
The pitcher, who was signed this offseason to a massive seven-year/$155 million contract, was having a brilliant season before being diagnosed with a partial tear of his right elbow. He was placed on the DL July 9 and there was initially talk that he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Tanaka and the Yankees ultimately elected to put off surgery and go the rehab route, hoping that resting Tanaka and then gradually bringing him back would allow him to return in 2014. Tanaka was by far the Yankees’ best starter before the injury.
The Yankees this season have been plagued by injuries to their starting pitchers, losing Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova for all or parts of 2014. Through it, the Yanks have managed to barely hang in the race.