In his first baseball activity in nearly a month Monday afternoon, Masahiro Tanaka delivered good news for the New York Yankees by throwing 50 pitches in a game of catch without feeling any discomfort. The Yankees shut him down after his most recent start, July 8, after an MRI revealed a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow.
After consulting with at least three doctors, Tanaka decided against surgery, which would have sidelined him for 9-12 months — probably closer to 12. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection three weeks ago as part of his rehab. Now, he's throwing again, in hopes of being able to return to the rotation this season.
Tanaka briefly talked to beat reporter Sweeny Murti of WFAN after his session at Yankee Stadium. He didn't say a lot, but instead just enough to be encouraging:
Tanaka was sweaty and smiling after 50-pitch game of catch. Told me he felt good and no pain. First of many steps.— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) August 4, 2014
Sweating and smiling is good.
UPDATE: Here's video of Tanaka's game of catch. He's throwing gingerly, looking like someone who's a long ways away from trying to strike batters out with a sick split-fingered fastball.
Overall, it's progress, especially when the possible outcomes could be much worse. After coming over from Japan, Tanaka was pitching about as well as anyone before his injury, posting a 2.51 ERA with 135 strikeouts in 129 1/3 innings. If he can give the Yankees something down the stretch while avoiding surgery, he still can write a happy ending to his first season in the majors.
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