Yankees’ Tanaka throws 26 pitches in 1st bullpen session

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, of Japan, talks to teammates in the dugout during the first inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Saturday, June 23, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has cleared a key hurdle in his rehab program for strained right and left hamstrings, throwing 26 pitches in his first bullpen session.

Tanaka, sidelined since getting hurt June 8 while running the bases in a game, threw before Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.

”I was kind of being a little bit cautious about it,” Tanaka said through a translator. ”But it turned out that I didn’t feel anything.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Tanaka will throw off a mound again Tuesday at New York’s spring training complex in Tampa. That lines Tanaka up to pitch in a simulated game Friday.

”Went well,” Boone said. ”Encouraging sign. It looks like he’s doing well.”

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA in 13 starts.

”The arm strength is still there,” Tanaka said. ”Was able to really throw with some force on it.”

Tanaka could rejoin the Yankees, who have the majors’ best record, before the All-Star break next month.

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