New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is inching closer to a full return to the mound after undergoing elbow surgery in October. It appears he could be ready to pitch in time for Opening Day.

Continue for updates.

Tanaka Comments on Recovery Timeline

Friday, Feb. 12

Tanaka told Erik Boland of Newsday that he’s “perfectly healthy,” though he’s uncertain about Opening Day. He added, “Can’t say for sure just because…I’m building myself up toward the season.”

Tanaka Throws off Bullpen Mound for the 1st Time

Tuesday, Feb. 9

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild confirmed Tuesday that Tanaka’s rehabilitation remains on track this spring, per the Associated Press (via

Tanaka Battling Injuries Throughout Short MLB Career

Tanaka’s arm issues go back to July 2014, when he was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Generally, Tommy John surgery is the next step, but Tanaka and the Yankees opted against that approach, and the All-Star pitcher returned in September.

However, he headed back to the disabled list late last April and missed all of May before coming back on June 3 against the Seattle Mariners. The arm problems persisted, leading to his eventual surgery.

Not only will Tanaka play a big role in the Yankees’ playoff hopes in 2016, but the team is also paying him $22 million annually for the next four years and then $23 million in 2020. New York won’t get anything close to a return on that investment if Tanaka’s injuries keep affecting his performance going forward.

Judging by his continued progress, it looks as though the Japanese star will be ready for Opening Day on April 4. Both the team and Yankees fans alike will be monitoring his every move during his rehab throughout spring training to ensure he doesn’t suffer any setbacks.

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