Tanaka to face hitters Saturday for first time since elbow injury

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Masahiro Tanaka will take another step forward in his rehab on Saturday.
Masahiro Tanaka will take another step forward in his rehab on Saturday. (USATSI)

For the first time since suffering a partially torn elbow ligament the week before the All-Star break, Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will throw to hitters on Saturday, manager Joe Girardi announced. He is scheduled to throw a round of live batting practice.

Tanaka, 25, has been on a throwing program for several weeks and threw off a mound for the second time on Wednesday. That throwing session including breaking balls and splitters for the first time. He threw 35 pitches overall.

The tear in Tanaka's ligament is said to be very small, so much so that three different doctors recommended platelet-rich plasma treatment and rehab instead of Tommy John surgery. There is still a possibility he will have to go under the knife in the future.

Before getting hurt, Tanaka went 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and a ridiculous 135/19 K/BB in 18 starts and 129 1/3 innings. That performance made him an early contender for both the AL Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards.

In addition to Tanaka, the Yankees are currently without CC Sabathia (knee), Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) and David Phelps (elbow). Michael Pineda (shoulder) was just activated off the disabled list.

The Yankees come into Thursday with a 63-61 record, leaving them 9.5 games back in the AL East and 5.0 games back of the second wild-card spot.

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