Masahiro Tanaka expected to rejoin Yankees next week

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Masahiro Tanaka’s status was in question after he struggled in his second minor league rehab start, but he’s suddenly expected to rejoin the Yankees next week.

Tanaka has been sidelined since April 23 due to a right forearm strain and right wrist tendinitis. After tossing three scoreless innings in his first minor league rehab start with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre last Thursday, he allowed three runs on four hits and two walks over three innings in his second rehab start yesterday.

Tanaka will fly out west tonight to meet up with the team before an official decision is made, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he’ll likely be activated to start next Tuesday or Wednesday against the Mariners in Seattle. He only got stretched out to 61 pitches yesterday, so the expectation is that he’ll be limited to around 80 pitches for his first start back.

Amid constant speculation about the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, Tanaka posted a 3.22 ERA with 24 strikeouts and seven walks in 22 1/3 innings over his first four starts this season prior to being placed on the disabled list. Those questions likely aren’t going away.