NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Masahiro Tanaka is making serious strides in his rehabilitation.
The Japanese right-hander, who has been out since July 8 with a small tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, threw nearly a dozen fastballs from the stretch off flat ground on Wednesday and reported no pain, furthering speculation that he could rejoin the Yankees before the end of the regular season.
In the hope of avoiding season-ending Tommy John surgery, Tanaka received a platelet-rich plasma injection three weeks ago and did not exert himself until making 25 long tosses at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 4. He turned around and made 50 throws from 60 feet a day later, again with no pain.
His latest throwing session was his most encouraging to date and comes as welcome news to the Yankees, who are 2 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot and will have oft-injured right-hander Michael Pineda back on the mound Wednesday night when they continue their rain-shortened series against the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Signed to a seven-year, $175 million contract by the Yankees during the offseason, the 25-year-old Tanaka was named an All-Star in his first season in the majors, and was a serious Rookie of the Year and Cy Young candidate prior to injuring himself early last month.
In 18 starts, Tanaka is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA. He’s struck out 135 and walked just 19 in 129 1/3 innings.
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