Masahiro Tanaka scheduled to start instructional league game in Tampa on Monday

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Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka threw around 44 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday and came out of it feeling fine, so he’s been given clearance to take the next step in his rehabilitation from a partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that Tanaka is scheduled to start an¬†instructional league game at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa, Florida on Monday. It’s kind of like a rehab start, though he will be facing off against Yankees minor leaguers instead of players from opposing organizations. All of the Yankees’ minor league affiliates are done for the season, so a rehab assignment was not an option.

Feinsand wrote earlier this week that there’s a possibility Tanaka could return from the disabled list during the September 19-21 series against the Blue Jays, and it looks now like that might actually happen.

It’s very rare for a pitcher to avoid Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery after a UCL tear diagnosis.