Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka has taken another big step as he tries to come back from a partially torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament. The 25-year old rookie sensation threw 35 pitches to Zelous Wheeler and Brendan Ryan during batting practice and according to reports, experienced no pain or discomfort. Tanaka threw every pitch in his arsenal including his famed splitter during the session and the Yankees are very encouraged by the results.
Right now it seems that a September return is very possible and he’ll at least be able to avoid Tommy John Surgery and be ready for next season. While it’s still early in the process facing live batters is a huge step for the Yankees’ $155 million dollar man. The seemingly desperate gamble of not getting Tanaka the surgery right away and opting for PRP injections and rehab seems to be paying off at this point in time.
While the Yankees shouldn’t rush Tanaka back in order to make a September return he’ll follow each step necessary to come back. If he returns it won’t be because he was rushed but because he’s passed each test. Today’s 35 pitch session is a huge leap forward for the Yankees and their ace and with the team still in the middle of a playoff race the return of the young gun would be a huge boost.
If the Yankees make the postseason as a Wild Card team (Currently 3.5 games back of the second spot) they’d be pretty confident sending Tanaka out to pitch in the one game playoff. For now, all fans can do is be happy with his current progress and stay optimistic about the road ahead. Tanaka was the talk of baseball before the curse of Tommy John hit him and he’ll look to continue a great rookie season after a long absence. Stay tuned for more updates on Tanaka’s progress along the comeback trail.