SENDAI – New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who missed two months last season due to an elbow injury, worked out ahead of his second big league season on Thursday.
Using the indoor facility of his former club, the Rakuten Eagles, Tanaka ran sprints, practiced fielding and played catch — in which he mixed in some breaking balls.
“So far so good — including that (the elbow),” said Tanaka, who returned from a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow to make two starts at the end of the season.
Despite missing all that time, Tanaka went 13-5 and led the Yankees in wins. Until he was injured, Tanaka was considered the de facto ace of the rotation and expectations will be high for him in 2015.
“Whether I’m the ace or I’m used in different roles within games, I’m always thinking I’m going to win, so I’m not going to change anything I do,” Tanaka said.
He practiced alongside third-year Eagles pitcher Takahiro Norimoto and sophomore lefty Yuki Matsui as well as his former batterymate, catcher Motohiro Shima.
“To meet familiar faces, it really made me feel I was back,” said Tanaka, who had a longer offseason than he would have liked due to the Yankees failure to make the postseason.
“This year I hope to have the shortest offseason among all 30 big league clubs.”