Tanaka ready to take next step, toss live BP

Tanaka ready to take next step, toss live BP

NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka will make the next step in his rehab program on Saturday, when he faces hitters during live batting practice. That is likely to come at Yankee Stadium, although the Yankees are still trying to work out the details of who he will face.

Tanaka threw breaking balls during a 35-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday for the first time since a partial tear was discovered in his right ulnar collateral ligament on July 11, and he did not feel any discomfort. He is trying to rehab the injury, avoiding potential season-ending Tommy John surgery so he can pitch for the Yankees again in September.

Tanaka says he is ready to move past concern about the injury and work toward building his pitch count back up so he can return to the mound.

The Yankees are feeling encouraged enough that they will continue to move him along in the progression, but they will certainly remain cautious with his every move.

"Each step he increases intensity," said manager Joe Girardi. "I'm sure BP will be a little bit more intense than bullpens."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.