MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka May Come Back Before End of Season, Help New York Make Playoff run

( [email protected] ) Aug 06, 2014 05:51 PM EDT
Tanaka had a blood treatment that may help him avoid surgery.
Masahiro Tanaka threw for the first time in about a month on Monday. AP

Masahiro Tanaka threw for the first time in about a month, when he tossed about 25 balls in the Yankee Stadium outfield Monday.  

The pitcher, eager to get back on the mound and avoid Tommy John Surgery, said he felt "good"; Manager Joe Girardi said it was just a start.   

Tanaka knows that fellow starter David Phelps went down the day before, adding to the Yankees pitching woes this season, and Tanaka wants to get back on the mound soon to help the Yankees make a playoff push.  Phelps was added to the seemingly ever expanding list of injured Yankee starters over the weekend.  

This marked the first test for Tanaka's right elbow, since he received a platelet-rich plasma injection July 14 in the hope that he could avoid surgery for a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Surgery would finish his season and could also shut him down for 2015, too.

Afterwards, he told reports that the elbow felt better.  

"I think it all went well," Tanaka said, through his interpreter.

The Yankees have lost four starters from their Opening Day rotation, and replacement Phelps probably won't make it back by the end of August. Matt Daley was called up from the minors, but Girardi said he had yet to decide who will replace Phelps in the rotation.

It's doubtful Tanaka will be in a game anytime soon, though, as he will need to build up his arm strength.

The Yankees invested $175 million in Tanaka to bring him over from Japan, and at the start of the season that seemed like a smart move.  In his initial 14 starts, he was 11-1 with a 1.99 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 99 2/3 innings. However, in his final four starts before going on the DL, he was just 1-3 with a 4.35 ERA, striking out just 22 in 29 2/3 innings.

The Yankees hope Tanaka and Michael Pineda can return for the playoff stretch, as the team is doing well at 58-54, but they trail the Orioles and Blue Jays in the American League East.

Pineda is scheduled to have two more rehab outings, including Monday night, before returning to the rotation around the middle of the month.