New York Yankees breathe a sigh of relief after simulated game for Masahiro Tanaka


The New York Yankees got some good news on Saturday, as ace pitcher Masahiro Tanaka went through a simulated game.

Last season, Tanaka suffered a small tear in his UCL ligament, which usually requires the dreaded Tommy John surgery, but Tanaka and the Yankees elected to go against the grain by not getting surgery.

The Yankees have been extremely careful in the rehab process for Tanaka, and Saturday is an encouraging for Tanaka’s health this season. By avoiding surgery, Tanaka’s elbow will be constantly watched, as it’s a ticking time bomb.

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Last season, Tanaka took the MLB by storm in his first season after signing from Japan. Tanaka would go 13-5 last season in 20 starts with a 2.77 ERA, 141 strikeouts, and three complete games. In his first season, Tanaka would make the All-Star team, but was unable to pitch due to the injury to his elbow.

Tanaka would miss a good chunk of the summer with the torn UCL, as he went from July 8th to September 21st without making a start. The Yankees and Tanaka both thought it was important for him to get on the mound at the end of last year to make sure that they didn’t feel he needed surgery.

In Tanaka’s simulated game, he threw 29 pitches in two innings with 23 of those pitches for strikes. It was Gary Sanchez and Cole Figueroa who faced Tanaka, and only Sanchez would be able to get a hit off of Tanaka.

“Overall, I thought it was very good,’’ Tanaka said, as he spoke by the clubhouse afterwards. “All the pitches I threw today I am pretty satisfied with. The [elbow] is really good and I don’t think about it at all.”

Tanaka is likely going to be starting against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, as he looks to prepare for the regular season.

Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild was impressed by Tanaka, as he told reporters after being the umpire for the simulated game. “He was using all his pitches. It is where you would expect him to be. It’s his first sim day, so it was a good day of work. If things progress the way they are I am very confident he will be ready [for the start of the season].”

The health of Tanaka and the rest of the Yankees’ rotation is going to be a major concern throughout the season, as the rotation is full of often-injured pitchers. If Tanaka isn’t healthy for the Yankees this season, it would make it nearly impossible for them to reach the playoffs in 2015.

Next: What will the Yankees' record be in 2015?

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