Masahiro Tanaka continues to make progress in his attempt to return from a partially torn elbow ligament without needing Tommy John surgery, as the Yankees announced that he’ll throw a bullpen session Saturday.
That represents a big step for Tanaka, who’ll advance to throwing off a mound after playing catch from flat ground earlier this week.
Tanaka was shut down in mid-July, but rather than immediately go under the knife and begin the 12-month (or longer) recovery process he’s hoping rest and rehab will do the trick.
No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.
Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.
Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.