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Girardi: Tanaka to pitch somewhere this year to test elbow and 'can't wait until next spring'

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - The Yankees plan to have Masahiro Tanaka throw another bullpen session Saturday and say the injured star must pitch in some sort of game setting to determine whether he can avoid elbow surgery.

Tanaka has been sidelined since July 9 because of a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He said last Friday, a day after throwing 49 pitches in a simulated game, that his whole arm felt sore. He reported no problems after playing catch Tuesday.

"He will pitch somewhere. He has to throw," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Thursday. "You can't wait until next spring."

Minor league teams have finished their regular seasons and are in the playoffs. The Yankees also could arrange an informal game at their minor league complex in Tampa, Florida.

If he can't make it back to the Yankees this season, an option could be the Arizona Fall League, which opens Oct. 7.

The right-hander is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in his first major league season. Elbow ligament-replacement surgery would sideline Tanaka for about a year.

Martin Prado remained unavailable because of a mild left hamstring strain, sustained Tuesday night. He ran at about 50 per cent Thursday, which he termed jogging.

"Hopefully, we get him back tomorrow or the next day," Girardi said.

Prado sounded less confident.

"I don't want to be a hero and go there and get hurt and then not play until the end of the season," he said. "So I'd rather miss a couple days and make sure that my leg is OK to play the 20 or 25 games we've got left."

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