Masahiro Tanaka, the New York Yankees’ ace, threw yesterday for the first time since landing on the disabled list nine days ago. Tanaka made 50 throws from 60 feet on flat ground prior to last night’s contest between the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles and was reportedly pain-free.

Tanaka was placed on the disabled list with a Grade 1 strain of his right forearm and tendinitis in his right wrist. Throwing last night without pain was a step in the right direction for the Japanese right-hander. General manager Brian Cashman continues to characterize the injury as minor, and has laid out a timetable that could have Tanaka back with the Yankees in about a month.

“I have no concern on Tanaka,” Cashman said. “We feel this is a minor issue that he was dealing with and it’s just a timing issue. So give him some rest, and getting back to a flat-ground throwing program will obviously lead to getting him on the mound here.”

Tanaka will throw again on Friday before taking another day off. At least one minor league rehab start is in the cards. The Yankees are unsure if Tanaka will need more than one start to shake off any remaining rust after missing a chunk of the season.

There is still the little matter of Tanaka’s partially torn ulnar collateral ligament to deal with, of course. Tanaka’s ligament is a ticking time bomb, and he will need Tommy John surgery at some point before the end of his career. The Yankees will continue monitoring the condition of Tanaka’s elbow, but it will not factor into their handling of his current injury.

In four starts this season, Tanaka was 2-1 with a 3.22 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 22.1 innings pitched.

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