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Masahiro Tanaka unsure how elbow rehab will go

Pitcher says he is feeling a little better, but it's a gradual process
07/18/2014 7:05 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Masahiro Tanaka watches from the dugout during his last start against the Indians.(AP)
Masahiro Tanaka met with the New York media Friday, addressing the partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow for the first time since being placed on the disabled list last Wednesday.

And mostly, what he said is that he's just not sure what's going to happen.

"It's gradually getting better, but right now, certain motions and movements are painful, " he said through interpreter Shingo Horie. "I'll start a throwing program when I'm pain-free, but I haven't gotten there yet so I can't really say anything more (about what will happen)."

Tanaka received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his elbow on Monday, and prior to Friday's second-half opener with Cincinnati, manager Joe Girardi said he thought Tanaka's timetable was "three weeks or so before he starts throwing."

The pitcher himself wouldn't give a timetable of his own, but he did at least offer a slight status update.

"l'll start throwing when I'm pain-free, but basically I have to wait until that happens," Tanaka said. "As much as I want to, I can't give you a specific date. We just have to wait and see how it goes."

General manager Brian Cashman somewhat concurred with Tanaka's vague assessment, doubly refusing to give any timetables after announcing earlier in the day that CC Sabathia will undergo knee surgery next week and miss the remainder of the season.

"I don't think I have any expectations (on what will happen)," the GM said Friday. "He had the injection, and he'll rest and get treatment, and when he's symptom-free, he'll start a throwing program. That will be the usual, bullpens and BP and a rehab assignment, but all of that has to happen without issue."

As far as the injury itself, Tanaka acknowledged that he knew something was wrong right away after his last start in Cleveland, that he knew it was something more than just a usual tweak.

"It was not soreness, it was pain; it wasn't something that was normal, so that's why I had to talk to the trainers and let them know," he said. "I still feel it, it's gradually getting better but I do still feel it."

The right-hander wouldn't offer an opinion when asked if the switch to a five-day pitching schedule may have contributed to the injury, nor would he offer any thoughts on how long he thinks it would take him to come back if and when he does start throwing - noting that this is the first time he's ever had an injury like this, so it's completely new territory.

All he would say is that he has come to terms with the injury and is only focused on moving forward.

"I feel okay, I'm good," he said. "The important thing here is that what happened has happened, and I have to accept that. My focus is to accept it and try to get back healthy."

And as for his statement last week apologizing to the team and the fans?

"I just felt bad that I'm not able to play and contribute to the team, and I wanted to express that."

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