After an offseason of waiting, Masahiro Tanaka returned to game action and made his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday night. He threw two perfect innings against the Braves, striking out a pair and getting four weak ground balls. Tanaka threw only 19 pitches and had to go to the bullpen afterwards to get up to his pitch count for the night.
Here’s video of Tanaka’s outing:
After the game, Tanaka told reporters what he’s been telling them all spring: he feels great and has no concerns about the elbow. He also said he was pleased he was able to get ahead in the count early. I know it’s in the back of our minds — how could it not? — but it truly doesn’t seem like Tanaka is worried about his elbow following the partially torn ligament. He just wants to get ready for the season.
All things considered, Thursday night’s debut went as well as we could have possibly hoped. Granted, he was faced a weak Braves lineup, but Tanaka looked like the pre-injury version we saw early last year. It was very encouraging.