MIAMI: New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is uncertain if he will be ready for the start of the Major League Baseball season and plans to gauge his fitness in pre-season.
The 27-year-old Japanese right-hander had off-season surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow and has not yet thrown from a mound as the Yankees prepare to open pre-season training with other clubs next week.
“Can’t really say,” Tanaka said through a translator when asked if he would be ready for New York’s April 4 opener.
“We’ll take it day by day. I can’t really talk about that at this point. I just want to see myself going to the bullpen, get the innings in, see how I feel.”
Tanaka played catch Friday for about 15 minutes at the Yankees’ training complex in Tampa, Florida. He expects to throw off a mound this weekend but Yankees general manager said that his throwing program will lag behind those of other Yankees starters over the next few weeks after surgery.
“I didn’t feel it overly when I was actually pitching. It was more so about after pitching,” Tanaka said.
“I felt there was a little bit more inflammation in that area. My thought process was that if we’re able to take that bone spur off, we might be able to get not so much inflammation.”
Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Friday that while the team will be cautious with Tanaka, he thinks the Asian star will be ready when his turn in the rotation comes in April.
“We’ve got so much time that if there are bumps in the road, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue,” Rothschild said. “We’re not going to try to push him through anything, even if it’s something that seems like it doesn’t mean much. We won’t try to push through that.”
Tanaka said he feels “healthy” and hopes to rebound from a “disappointing” 2015 season that saw him on the injured list with a right forearm flexor strain.
“I’m still at the stage of building myself up toward the season, but I feel it’s going to be a better season,” he said.