Baseball / MLB

Masahiro Tanaka throws BP, on track for July 31 season debut

AP

Masahiro Tanaka threw 20 pitches during batting practice Tuesday and is on track to make his first start July 31 against Boston after missing one turn in the New York Yankees' rotation.

Tanaka walked two in his one inning, his first time facing batters since he was hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton's line drive on July 4.

"I thought he was strong. Fastball had life to it,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

New York placed Tanaka on the 7-day concussion injured list. He is to throw batting practice again on Sunday at the Yankees' alternate training camp at Scranton, Pennsylvania, likely 35-40 pitches.

"If everything comes out OK, I should be ready to go,” he said through a translator.

He did not use a protective screen. Tanaka thought about getting hit only before delivering his first pitch.

"After I threw that, it was back to business, back to normal,” he said.

The 31-year-old right-hander is 75-43 in six major league seasons and is entering the final year of his contract.

With Tanaka missing his first turn, left-hander James Paxton will start the second game at Washington on Saturday, following ace Gerrit Cole in the opener.

Boone said the bullpen will combine for Sunday's series finale at the Nationals, when 25-year-old right-hander Michael King could make his major league debut.

"It didn’t feel like he was in a great place necessarily in spring, so he came into summer camp from a make-the-club standpoint,” Boone said. "He really needed to show something. And I feel like he more than did that. I feel like he’s in a great spot right now. I feel like he’s throwing the ball really well. I feel like he has a chance to really impact our club this year.”

Left-hander J.A. Happ is to start Monday's series opener at Philadelphia, and it remains unclear whether Cole would start Tuesday at the Phillies or in Wednesday's home opener against Philadelphia.

After rising from Class A to Double-A and then Triple-A last year, 21-old right-hander Deivi Garcia was optioned to the alternate training site. He lasted just 1⅔ innings and 46 pitches in Monday night's exhibition against Philadelphia, allowing two runs, four hits and two walks with one strikeout.

"Clearly still has some development to go. And so this will be an important time for him down there to continue to develop and continue to kind of iron out his delivery and his repertoire,” Boone said.

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery also was optioned, though it's unclear whether that was due to roster management.

New York signed left-hander Luis Avilán ($370,370 prorated), catcher Chris Iannetta ($555,556 prorated) and right-hander David Hale ($296,296) to major league contracts and selected them to the 40-man roster.

Clarke Schmidt, a 24-year-old right-hander selected 16th overall in the 2017 amateur draft, was among those reassigned to the alternate training site. He earned the James P. Dawson Award as the outstanding Yankees rookie in spring training after compiling a 2.57 ERA over seven innings and four appearances with eight strikeouts.

New York drafted Schmidt two months after he had Tommy John surgery and he did not make his professional debut until June 22, 2018, with the Gulf Coast League Yankees.

"For a guy that hasn’t had a lot of minor league experience yet, he’s pretty polished,” Boone said. "So hopefully he’ll go down there and continue to to develop and pitch. And he’s very much in the conversation to be with us at some point this season. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was — and not only if he was, but he’s playing an important role for us.”

Right-hander Dan Otero was put on the restricted list. Otero decided to return home to his family rather than report to Scranton, said a person familiar with his situation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Otero's decision was not announced.

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