As expected, Masahiro Tanaka faced hitters today for the first time since suffering a partially torn elbow ligament right before the All-Star break. He threw 35 pitches — including breaking balls and splitters — across two simulated innings against Brendan Ryan and Zelous Wheeler. Tanaka said he felt good but rusty, which isn’t surprising. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild called the throwing session encouraging.
It’s unclear what the next step will be — I’m guessing they’ll wait to see how Tanaka feels in the coming days before setting anything in stone — but the minor league season ends in about ten days, so there might not be enough time to get him in minor league rehab games. All of his preparation may have to be done in simulated games. The most important thing is that Tanaka is healthy and making real progress as he attempts to rehab his injury.