TAMPA, FLORIDA – New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, coming back after arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow last October, says he feels perfectly healthy but isn’t sure when he’ll make his first regular-season start.
“Can’t really say,” Tanaka said through a translator Friday after his first workout at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “We’ll take it day by day. I feel that I can’t really talk about that at this point. I just want to see myself go into the bullpen, get the innings in and see how I feel.”
Tanaka threw from 18 meters and played long toss on level ground.
“Just talking with him today and watching him, I think he’s in a pretty good place for this early,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “He went through his throwing program and had no problems. As long as there’s no setbacks or anything, he’ll be fine and ready to go.”
The Yankees said the injury dates from when Tanaka pitched in Japan. He signed with New York before the 2014 season after spending seven years with NPB’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
“I didn’t feel it so much when I was pitching, it was more after pitching,” Tanaka said. “Felt there was a little more inflammation in that area and my thought process was if we’re able to take that bone spur off then we might be able to get that inflammation (taken care of).”
Tanaka was diagnosed with a partially torn elbow ligament in 2014, when he went 13-5 in 20 starts. He was 12-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 24 starts last year and lost to Houston in the AL wild-card game.
“I’m still at the stage of building myself up toward the season, but I feel it’s going to be a better season,” Tanaka said.
Tanaka was on the disabled list from April 23 to June 3 last season with right wrist tendinitis and a forearm strain, then missed a September start because of a strained right hamstring.
“It was frustrating,” Tanaka said. “Missed time obviously because of having to go on the disabled list, didn’t feel like I pitched enough games.”
New York pitchers and catchers will report for spring training Thursday.