Masahiro Tanaka threw a bullpen early Sunday, his second time throwing off a mound since he suffered a mild concussion the first official day of the rebooted spring training. His next step will be to face live hitters, Aaron Boone said.
“Everything went well. So, we would expect him to face hitters perhaps Tuesday,” the Yankees manager said before Sunday night’s exhibition game against the Mets at Yankee Stadium.
That schedule has Tanaka unlikely to return in the first turn through the rotation, but possibly lines him up to pitch the home opener July 29 against the Phillies.
Tanaka suffered the concussion after being hit in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton line drive in live batting practice. The exit velocity on the ball was 112 miles per hour.
While it was a scary moment, Tanaka and Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake feel he has “processed” the incident well. The 32-year-old said he didn’t think he would have fear getting back up on the mound or facing hitters again.
“I think everything will be okay once I step on the mound, but you really don’t know until you face a live hitter and at that point in time, you might feel some worries or concern going up on the mound,” Tanaka said last week through interpreter Shingo Horie. “As of now, I feel okay getting back on the mound.”
Tanaka came into the season as a likely No. 3 in the Yankees’ rotation.
In the last year of his $155-million deal with the Yankees, he’s been a solid workhorse in the regular season and exceptional in the playoffs. In eight playoff games, 46 career postseason innings, Tanaka has a 1.76 ERA. He’s allowed just nine earned runs, striking out 37 and walking just 11.
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