Masahiro Tanaka is still hopeful he can contribute to his team’s playoff push. A positive sign emerged as Tanaka, recovering from a partially torn UCL, came through a 34-pitch bullpen session before Saturday’s game in which he threw all of his pitches. It was his first bullpen session since being sent back to New York from Toronto last week after experiencing arm fatigue.
“I feel that it’s way stronger than it was, so way better,” the right-hander told reporters through an interpreter after his workout on Saturday. “I think the fatigue is done.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the next step in Tanaka’s rehab has not yet been determined, but it will either be a live batting practice session or a simulated game. Girardi is also optimistic that the Japanese ace will be able to pitch again before the end of the season: “That is the goal,” he said Saturday. “You have to get him in games to resolve the situation. That’s the bottom line because you can’t wait until next spring to resolve it. So it needs to resolve, and we’ll do everything we can to get him in games before we leave.”
It’s pretty rare for a pitcher with a torn UCL to avoid Tommy John elbow surgery, but here we are.