Pineda, Tanaka both on track with injury rehab

08/03/2014 7:49 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

After suffering a setback on his previous rehab stint, Michael Pineda made it through 3 1/3 innings in Sunday's start for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre without incident.(AP)
Could the Yankees be penciling in Michael Pineda's return to the rotation for their mid-August homestand?

Manager Joe Girardi didn't expressly say that Sunday, but if you read into what the skipper said about Pineda just hours after the righty opened his rehab assignment by throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, you could surmise that Pineda's return to the Major League rotation is targeted for roughly two weeks from now.

"You want to first get him to a certain pitch count, and then second you want him throwing the ball well where he feels comfortable," Girardi told the media prior to his team's finale with the Red Sox in Boston. "He threw free and easy (Sunday) with no issues; that's encouraging, (and) the plan is to get him to the pitch count."

After throwing 58 pitches (plus five more in the bullpen) Sunday, Pineda is on schedule for an outing on Friday where he would throw around 75 pitches, and that could be the penultimate tune-up for his return.

"It's 75 this time, probably 90 the next, and then you go from there," Girardi said. "If he didn't necessarily feel comfortable or he wasn't sharp, you could say, well, let's have him make one more start, but at that point, you would feel, from a pitch count, he's ready to join us."

If his schedule isn't interrupted, Pineda would be on track for that 90-pitch start on August 13, and five days later would be August 18; the Yankees are off that day, but begin a six-game homestand with a game against Houston the following day.

Pineda's progress wasn't the only good news that the Yankees got on one of their injured pitchers this weekend, though; according to Girardi, the Yankees will check beforehand to make sure Masahiro Tanaka feels good, but the plan is to have the Japanese righty begin playing catch Monday, marking his first activity since being diagnosed with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow.

"We'll see tomorrow what everyone wants to do with him, but as we said, three weeks is the mark," Girardi said, referencing that Monday is three weeks since Tanaka received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the elbow. "His doctor (has checked him), he feels good, so we'll see what we do (but) catch or no catch are about the two options."

Girardi added that the team is obviously excited that Tanaka's evaluation on Friday went well and he is ready to begin playing catch, but it will still be a while before the righty is close to ready.

"It's not starting all over because he's been built up, but it'll be probably (playing catch at) 60 feet, and then 60 and 90, and 90 and 120, then flat ground and bullpen and probably a rehab game," Girardi said. "I think Brian (Cashman), when it happened, he said September (is the timetable)."

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