ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After Masahiro Tanaka threw the first bullpen session of his rehab from a torn elbow ligament on Saturday, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said the real test would come Sunday morning.
"It's great that he got through it today," Rothschild said. "But it's more important how he feels tomorrow."
New York Yankees
Well, Sunday morning arrived without incident. Tanaka suffered no apparent hangover from his big Saturday afternoon, and he went out to play catch in the outfield before Sunday's game between the Yankees and Rays.
"It was the first thing I asked, how does he feel today?" manager Joe Girardi said. "The fact that he went out and played his long toss tells me he feels good, and he’ll continue to go forward. It's encouraging."
According to Girardi, the next step is another bullpen session sometime next week -- one in which Tanaka will incorporate some breaking pitches into his (so far) all-fastball repertoire. Tanaka is not likely, however, to throw his signature splitter until later on in the rehab process.
"They talked about him spinning some curveballs, so I’m not sure exactly if he’s going to throw a slider and what else he’s going to throw," Girardi said. "We want him to spin some off flat ground before he does it off the mound, so he’ll do a little bit of that."
Tanaka threw 25 fastballs at reduced intensity on Saturday and reported no pain in his elbow after the workout. There is still no timetable for him to begin pitching in rehab games, or any real estimate for when (or if) he might be able to return to the Yankees this season.