Johan Santana has begun throwing off a mound

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Johan Santana took an important step this week in his recovery from surgery to repair a re-tear of the anterior capsule muscle in his left shoulder. He provided the update via his Twitter account yesterday:

We heard in late December that Santana was close to making a decision on a minor league deal, but at this point he might try to throw for teams before signing anywhere. A reunion with the Twins has been mentioned as a possibility, with GM Terry Ryan recently saying that it would be a “good fit for both of us,” but he doesn’t expect Santana to be ready until midseason.

Santana had his surgery last April, so he’s about 10 months removed right now. He went 19 months between starts in the majors after his previous surgery in 2010, but he managed to pitch in minor league games after 11 months.

Masahiro Tanaka throws two-hit shutout vs. Rays

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went the distance, holding the Rays scoreless on two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts across nine innings on Monday night in the Bronx. It’s the fourth shutout of his career, accounting for four of the Yankees’ last six shutouts. The other two were thrown my Luis Severino and Brandon McCarthy.

DJ LeMahieu provided the bulk of the offense, swatting a two-run home run off of Yonny Chirinos in the third inning. Cameron Maybin tacked on a solo homer off of Chirinos in the fifth as the Yankees went on to win 3-0.

After Monday’s performance, Tanaka owns a 3.23 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 20 walks across 92 innings on the season.

With the win, the Yankees increase their lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East to 1.5 games.