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Masahiro Tanaka to make rehab start Thursday

After landing on the disabled list at the end of April with right wrist tendonitis and a mildly strained forearm, New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka is set to make his first rehab start.

The 26-year-old right hander threw a 29-pitch bullpen session on Monday, and after there was no complications, it was likely that Tanaka would take the mound in a rehab start at some point near the end of the week.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Yankees announced that Tanaka will make the rehab start on Thursday night with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate.

With regards to Tanaka’s injury, it appears as if the Yankees decided to take it slow throughout the healing process. Being that Tanaka missed 10 weeks of the season due to a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, the Yankees didn’t want to risk further injury, which led to them shutting him down when the injury occurred.

When speaking to the media today after his workout, Tanaka said that the plan is for him to throw about 45 pitches on Thursday night. With that number set, it appears that Tanaka will probably need three or four rehab starts before making his big league return.

For the Yankees, it is a great sign that Tanaka is ready to take the mound in a live game. Although the club could use him back as soon as possible, it doesn’t appear as if they will rush him, with hopes of avoiding future injuries. When he does make it back to the big leagues, the Yankees could definitely benefit from having a healthy Tanaka back in the rotation, especially with the recent season-ending injury to Chase Whitley.