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7/18/2014 11:35 P.M. ET

Tanaka optimistic of avoiding Tommy John surgery

NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka was one of baseball's best stories over his 18 starts in the first half, and the Yankees right-hander is hopeful that he will be able to throw a few more pitches before the season is out.

Tanaka said on Friday that he is going along with the recommendations of the three doctors who examined the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, and he is optimistic that a six-week rehab program will allow him to avoid reconstructive surgery.

"All I can do is to believe them and go with the treatment and the rehab program that the team will be having for us," Tanaka said through an interpreter.

Tanaka said that the discomfort in his pitching elbow started during his July 8 outing against the Indians in Cleveland, which was Tanaka's worst start of the year. The 25-year-old said that he never felt any issues before that night.

"The irritation or the pain came during that day in Cleveland when I was pitching," he said. "It was something that just gradually kind of built up. After the game, I told the team and the trainers that it was bothering me and it was hurting."

Tanaka said that even though he felt pain and not normal soreness, he did not fear a significant injury until an MRI exam confirmed the small tear of his UCL. Tanaka had a platelet-rich plasma injection on Monday in New York, and the Yankees plan to give Tanaka three weeks of full rest without throwing.

"I'm going to start on my throwing program once it becomes pain-free," Tanaka said. "It could be anytime. I wouldn't say tomorrow or anything. We just have to wait and see how the outlook is."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that once Tanaka is symptom-free, the team will put him on a throwing program. Bullpen sessions, batting practices and Minor League rehab games would all follow.

"The important thing here is that what happened is what happened, and I have to accept that," Tanaka said. "Right now, my focus is to accept it and try to get back on the mound. That's basically where I'm at."

Beltran returns from seven-day concussion DL

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran returned to the Yankees' lineup on Friday, going 2-for-4 with a shift-beating double and an RBI single out of the No. 6 spot as the designated hitter.

Beltran was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list on July 10 after a batted ball struck him in the face after ricocheting off a protective "L" screen in an indoor batting cage.

Beltran had some bruising on the bridge of his nose after the accident and saw a specialist in New York, but he said Friday those moves were for precaution and that he never had a concussion. Beltran passed a MLB-mandated concussion test before being activated.

"I feel good," Beltran said after New York's 4-3 victory over the Reds. "I think after I had that hit in the face, the next day I woke up feeling good. The team was concerned and just put me on the seven-day DL, making sure everything was well. I feel good."

The Yankees were encouraged with the way Beltran had started to swing the bat before the injury as he hopes to break out of a season-long funk. He hit .216 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs in 61 games before the All-Star break -- the first year of a three-year, $45 million contract.

Beltran hyperextended his right elbow in April, requiring a stint on the DL, and has been limited to designated hitter ever since. Neither Beltran nor Girardi was sure when Beltran would resume a throwing program so he can play the outfield at some point this season.

"Hopefully, everything goes well in the second half, I'll stay healthy and try to help the team," Beltran said.

Right-hander Bryan Mitchell was sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a corresponding roster move. The Yankees promoted Mitchell the day before the All-Star break as an extra arm in the bullpen just in case they played an extended game, but he did not make an appearance.

Yanks to honor Jeter's career on Sept. 7

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have announced that they will hold a special pregame ceremony to honor the career of team captain Derek Jeter on Sunday, Sept. 7.

All fans in attendance for the Yankees' game vs. Kansas City will receive a limited-edition commemorative coin that will recognize the occasion. Further details about the ceremony will be announced at a later date, the team said.

Sixty-seven regular-season games now remain in Jeter's final season. The Yankees' final regular-season home game is scheduled for Sept. 25 against the Orioles. New York completes the regular season on Sept. 28 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

As the countdown continues, Jeter reached another career milestone on Friday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Friday marked Jeter's 2,610th career start at shortstop, passing Omar Vizquel (2,609) for the all-time Major League record.

Jeter has now appeared in 2,624 career games at shortstop, and will finish his career trailing only Vizquel (2,709) on baseball's all-time list. Jeter has made the most appearances at any single fielding position without having played another position in Major League history.

Depth in starting rotation a priority for Cashman

NEW YORK -- Starting-pitching depth remains at the top of Brian Cashman's shopping list as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, the Yankees general manager said on Friday.

"Trying to acquire starting-pitching depth is important, period -- whether it's tomorrow or by the Deadline or even after the Deadline," Cashman said. "In the meantime, the people who are getting the ball are obviously going to try to make every opportunity while they have it."

The Yankees are missing 80 percent of their Opening Day rotation, with only Hiroki Kuroda remaining from a group that once included CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka.

Cashman has shown willingness to make smaller upgrades when possible to this point; Brandon McCarthy was acquired from the D-backs in exchange for Vidal Nuno, and David Huff was added to the roster as an improvement over long reliever Alfredo Aceves.

In the meantime, the Yankees do feel urgency to reinforce a rotation currently comprised by David Phelps, McCarthy, Kuroda, Shane Greene and Chase Whitley.

"Some guys have really stepped up for us," Cashman said. "Can they maintain it? That's obviously the one question, and obviously we're more vulnerable because we can't afford any more injuries."

Cashman also noted that the organization will not pursue infielder Dan Uggla, who was granted his release on Friday by the Braves. The 34-year-old Uggla hit .162 with two home runs and 40 strikeouts in 145 plate appearances.

"I don't see where he'd fit, to be honest," Cashman said.

Bombers bits

• Pineda continues to show progress in his rehab from a right shoulder injury. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild watched Pineda throw a bullpen session over the All-Star break in Tampa, Fla., issuing a positive report. A mid-August return to the big league rotation remains in play at this time.

• Girardi applauded the way Major League Baseball handled Jeter's final All-Star Game.

"I thought it was great -- how it was handled, just everything involved. It was a very good game, too, as well," Girardi said.

• On this date in 1999, David Cone pitched the third perfect game in Yankees history, a 6-0 gem over the Expos at Yankee Stadium. Don Larsen threw out the game's ceremonial first pitch on Yogi Berra Appreciation Day.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.