Tanaka likely to throw 70-75 pitches in Sunday start

Tanaka likely to throw 70-75 pitches in Sunday start

NEW YORK -- After a successful bullpen session Thursday and some more long-toss throwing Friday, Masahiro Tanaka appears ready to make his first start since early July on Sunday.

Manager Joe Girardi indicated that he will limit Tanaka to about 70-75 pitches in his first outing back, but the circumstances may change based on how he feels. If everything goes well, Tanaka will start again before the season concludes, most likely on five days' rest.

Tanaka, 25, has not pitched in the big leagues since July 8 in Cleveland due to a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The Yankees opted to have Ivan Nova undergo Tommy John surgery for the same type of injury, but felt Tanaka might be able to recover with rehab. It's a risk they feel is worth taking.

"I think any time someone talks about that area there's a high level of concern," said Girardi. "There's always the fear that they're going to have surgery fairly quickly like Nova did. But so far everything's been good in his rehab and we've been able to avoid it, so you hope it continues. I think we'll find out more in the next eight days, but there's always concern.

"We feel that if his arm is going to be OK, it's going to be OK. And if it's not, then we want to have [surgery] done to where you don't miss parts of two seasons. This way, if it doesn't work, you probably wouldn't have him for next season. But if he had it in July or August, you probably wouldn't have had him anyway."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.