Jordan Zimmermann says neck problems aren’t to blame for shortest start of career

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Jordan Zimmermann sat out the All-Star game because of a lingering neck injury that’s bothered him for months and then struggled yesterday in his first start of the second half, failing to make it out of the third inning in the shortest start of his career.

However, afterward the Nationals right-hander insisted to James Wagner of the Washington Post that the injury isn’t to blame for his coughing up seven runs while recording six outs:

It was just one of those days where nothing was working. The neck feels awesome. I threw when I was home a little bit. When I was back, I had a few days to throw. I had plenty enough time to throw and get ready. But the command wasn’t there.

Zimmermann went 10 days between starts, which probably helped the neck injury and hurt his command. According to Wagner even manager Davey Johnson “feared that Zimmermann’s struggles were because his neck was acting up again” before being told otherwise.

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.