Yanks, Tanaka encouraged by latest 'pen session

Yanks, Tanaka encouraged by latest 'pen session

NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka did not need a translator to answer "good" in response to questions of how his arm was feeling after his latest bullpen session on Wednesday.

Tanaka continues to pass every early test with no discomfort in his rehab of a partial tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament. This latest session consisted of 35 pitches -- including fastballs, curveballs, sliders and five splitters -- and other than a little rust, Tanaka reported no problems.

"The fact that he felt good today was encouraging," manager Joe Girardi said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow; obviously that's really important. But he was able to throw his curveball, his slider and his split. I watched it, and he looked pretty good."

Girardi declined to put any specific timetable on Tanaka's next steps. He has now thrown two bullpen sessions, starting with 25 fastballs on Saturday followed by his session Wednesday, so he might be in line to throw another bullpen session or he could progress to throwing batting practice.

Tanaka said he now feels the injury is no longer a huge concern and he is ready to move forward with building up his pitch count.

"Absolutely. I feel that I've gotten the health; the elbow is fine now," Tanaka said. "I'm more looking towards playing in a game now. But that said, even that said, I think I do have to be cautious about the elbow."

And even as they eye a September return for Tanaka, the Yankees certainly will be monitoring his elbow closely.

"I think we have to; that's our job," Girardi said. "So far, so good. Every step has been positive for him, and that's obviously the way we hope it continues to go."

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.