NEW YORK - Masahiro Tanaka has taken a very small step toward returning to the New York Yankees rotation, playing a pain-free game of catch.
Michael Pineda, another sidelined Yankees starter, appears much closer to a return from a right shoulder muscle injury. His return could be pushed up, too, because fill-in starter David Phelps has been placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday because of right elbow inflammation.
Tanaka made 25 throws from 60 feet. He said through a translator that he was relieved his elbow felt fine. The rookie sensation from Japan has been out for nearly a month with a small tear of the ulnar collateral ligament and is trying to avoid Tommy John surgery.
Pineda threw 58 pitches in 3 1-3 innings for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre on Sunday. A day later, he was happy with how his shoulder felt.