Josh Geer returns to mound after overcoming skin cancer

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Josh Geer, who made 22 starts for the Padres between 2008 and ’09, is back competing for a job with San Diego this spring after missing most of last season following surgery to deal with skin cancer.

MLB.com has the story.

After making two Triple-A starts, Geer was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma last April. Surgery to remove lymph nodes followed, leaving him with 25 staples in his neck and a lengthy rehabilitation. He has been cancer-free since the surgery.

“It was a long year this last year, but I’m right on schedule now and with everything behind me,” Geer said. “I’m past it all and looking ahead to the future.”

Geer went 3-8 with a 5.28 ERA in 129 2/3 innings for the Padres in his two major league seasons. After all of the missed time, the 28-year-old doesn’t have a realistic chance of breaking camp with the team this spring. He could be part of the Triple-A rotation, though. Regardless, he’s just happy to be around and competing.

“You look at life differently,” he said. “I’m very fortunate. I’m very blessed in many ways.”

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.