New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka will throw from the mound Saturday for the first time since his July 8 start against the Cleveland Indians.
Tanaka, who is slated to throw 25 pitches at Tropicana Field, is continuing to rehab a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament. The Yankees are hopeful that the 25-year-old can return for two or three starts in the majors at the end of September.
“I still think it’s early to tell, but we’re getting through each step,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, per MLB.com. “Hopefully tomorrow goes well and we can move to the next step.”
Tanaka will throw only fastballs Saturday, a day after throwing long toss for the first time since the injury just over a month ago.
Tanaka said, through an interpreter, that throwing off the mound will be crucial in his recovery. Three doctors recommended that Tanaka stay away from having Tommy John surgery, trying instead to rehab the injury.
“You’d hate to shut him down the whole year and then go through it next year,” Girardi said. “Everything has been positive so far. He said he feels good, but you really don’t ever know.”
Tanaka vowed to return to the Yankees rotation “soon” after his injury, apologizing to fans for his unfortunate luck.
“I accept this injury as a challenge, but I promise to do everything I can to overcome this setback and return to the mound as soon as possible,” he said on July 11.
The Bronx Bombers would certainly welcome Tanaka back to the rotation, as they’ve fallen eight games back in the American League East and four games off pace in the American League Wild Card chase as of Friday.