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Tanaka very close to returning this season

The Yankees are still staying consistent with their plans to get Masahiro Tanaka back on the mound this season. Tanaka threw a 45-pitch three inning simulated game this afternoon to Chris Young, Zelous Wheeler, Antoan Richardson and Austin Romine, and came out feeling very encouraged. Tanaka said he felt better then he did during his last simulated game in Detriot, and manager Joe Girardi seemed to feel the same way. “I thought his stuff was sharper, I thought there was more velocity, I thought there was better command,” Girardi said via ESPN New York. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. His next step would be another bullpen and prepare him for another start.”

During Girardi’s daily pre-game spot on WFAN he thought Tanaka would need to throw one bullpen and get up to the 60-pitch mark, then he would need to throw in a real game, hinting towards an extended spring training game or instructional league game, but he reiterated it would ‘probably’ not be here. Looking at the dates he could possibly be ready to pitch during the next home stand which starts on August 18 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tanaka said he doesn’t feel as rusty and his arm strength is coming back, was able to throw his full array of pitches this afternoon. While there is still no firm date for his return, it’s safe to say it’s probably right around the corner.