Tanaka feels 'relieved' after light throwing session

Tanaka feels 'relieved' after light throwing session

NEW YORK -- As expected, Masahiro Tanaka took the next step in his road to recovery Monday when he threw for the first time since getting injured July 8 in a start against Cleveland.

Tanaka threw 25 pitches from 60 feet on flat ground in the outfield and said everything felt normal. The throwing session was exactly three weeks after Tanaka received a platelet-rich plasma injection, which the team hoped would promote healing of his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

Tanaka said he didn't feel anything in his elbow Monday, and the Yankees' plan is to have him throw lightly again Tuesday with the intent to build him back slowly, increasing both his number of throws and the distance.

"I wasn't worried, I think I was more excited to be able to throw," said Tanaka through an interpreter. "I think I got to the next step, so I'm every relieved about that."

Tanaka, avoiding season-ending Tommy John surgery, decided to rest and hopes to return in six weeks, though it is more likely he comes back to the team in September.

"You look at it as a start, really," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "Obviously, if there was discomfort, that would be very discouraging. So, it is a positive day. But there's still a long way to go, and you've got to plow through. He knows what he needs to do."

Whether Tanaka has made the right decision will be determined over the course of the month. But Monday was positive, since no pain was reported.

"It's hard to say, it's hard to make any assessment on that," Tanaka said of his decision to return this season.

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.