Masahiro Tanaka took a big step toward returning from a partially torn UCL on Monday when he threw 25 pitches in a game of catch. It's the first time the Yankees' ace has been able to throw since going on the DL right before last month's All-Star Game. Tanaka received a platelet rich plasma injection to try and repair the tear in his elbow, said to be less than 10% of the ligament, and sat out for three weeks before getting to this point.
Tanaka pleased with session earlier today. 25 throws at 60ft. Was excited to throw again & relieved all feels okay after #Yankees— Meredith Marakovits (@M_Marakovits) August 4, 2014
The original plan was for Tanaka to rest for a minimum of six weeks before trying to fully return to the team. Seeing as he is easily the team's best pitcher, and one that they have a huge financial commitment tied to, it's unlikely that the Yankees do anything to push him along. It's possible that the team plays it extra safe and Tanaka doesn't make it back to the mound this season, but it would be hard to consider that a failure if it means that he can avoid Tommy John surgery.
For today, this is the best news that we could have hoped for. Tanaka had been experiencing pain when throwing even before the MRI revealed a small tear, so the fact that he was able to play catch without pain now is certainly a good sign. He has another three weeks to go before they were hoping to have him back, and it seems like that could still very well happen. Fantastic news all around.