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Masahiro Tanaka throws 10 fastballs on flat ground, hopes to return to Yankees this season

Aug 13, 2014, 8:43 PM EDT

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Masahiro Tanaka was diagnosed last month with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and that injury pretty much always leads to Tommy John reconstructive surgery, but the right-hander is still holding out hope that rest and rehab will do the trick.

According to beat writer Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, the new Yankees ace threw 10 fastballs on flat ground Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore without experiencing any sort of arm discomfort. “It’s feeling really good,” Tanaka told reporters through an interpreter after the workout. “Really, I didn’t feel anything special compared to just regular tossing. I thought everything went well.”

Tanaka is aiming to return to the major league rotation at some point in mid-to-late September.

And while that seems unlikely, the in-contention Yankees aren’t willing to rule it out quite yet.

Tanaka owns a fantastic 2.51 ERA (153 ERA+) and 135/19 K/BB ratio through his first 129 1/3 big league frames. He signed a record seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees this past winter.

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