Aaron Gleeman

Masahiro Tanaka AP

Masahiro Tanaka is pitching well with a torn elbow ligament

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It may be a while before everyone stops holding their breath and crossing their fingers whenever Masahiro Tanaka takes the mound, but so far at least the Yankees ace’s decision to hold off on Tommy John elbow surgery is going well.

Tanaka has thrown 5.2 scoreless innings in two spring training starts, striking out five and allowing just two hits despite pitching with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York that he’s “pleased with the way he’s throwing” and Matthews writes that Tanaka “looked free, easy, and in control” in his most recent outing.

Prior to his elbow giving out last season Tanaka was in the mix for the Cy Young award, going 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA and 141/21 K/BB ratio in 136 innings.

Braves release veteran reliever Jose Veras

Jose Veras
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Last month Jose Veras had to settle for a minor-league deal from the Braves despite being a consistently solid reliever for the past five seasons and now Atlanta has released the 34-year-old right-hander.

Veras was awful in April of last year, but from May 1 on he threw 40 innings with a 2.90 ERA and 45/17 K/BB ratio. And he posted a sub-4.00 ERA with good strikeout rates every season from 2010-2013.

Assuming he’s healthy there are plenty of teams that could use Veras in a middle relief or even setup role.

Marlins sign seven-year contract extension with 23-year-old Christian Yelich

Christian Yelich
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Christian Yelich and the Marlins are “close” to inking a seven-year contract worth more than $40 million in guaranteed money, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.

Yelich was the Marlins’ first-round pick in 2010, debuted in 2013 as a 21-year-old, and had an impressive first full season in the majors last year, hitting .284 with nine homers, 21 steals, and a .764 OPS in 144 games while winning a Gold Glove award in left field.

He’s currently making the minimum salary and was already under the Marlins’ team control through 2019, so a seven-year deal would buy out either one or two seasons of free agency depending on whether it officially begins this season or in 2016.

Yelich has shown uncommonly strong on-base skills for such a young hitter, drawing 101 walks in 933 career plate appearances on the way to posting a nice .365 on-base percentage through age 22. Toss in good speed and plus defense in the outfield and he absolutely looks like a long-term building block for Miami.

Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins agreed to a 13-year, $325 million contract extension in November, so he’ll be driving in Yelich an awful lot.

UPDATE: Multiple outlets are now reporting that the deal is worth just a hair under $50 million.

Garrett Richards throws three innings, “looks pretty normal”

garrett richards getty
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Angels right-hander Garrett Richards took a big step in his comeback from knee surgery this afternoon, throwing three innings and 44 pitches in an intrasquad game.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that he allowed just one hit, struck out four, and “looks pretty smooth, normal.”

Presumably the Angels will soon clear Richards for an actual spring training game. Barring a setback Richards seems likely to be ready to rejoin the Angels’ rotation at some point in early April and perhaps even by Opening Day.

Matt Wieters shut down from catching due to elbow tendinitis

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Matt Wieters’ comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery has hit a snag, as the Orioles–after consulting with Dr. James Andrews–have shut him down from catching due to elbow tendinitis.

For now the team is saying it’s a precautionary move and manager Buck Showalter went so far as to insist it’s not even a setback for Wieters, but his Opening Day status is certainly in doubt.

Wieters is still cleared to serve as a designated hitter and may continue to get at-bats that way, but unless he can catch at least semi-regularly beginning the season on the disabled list seems likely.