8/23/2014 5:02 P.M. ET
Tanaka moving closer to rehab assignment
By Jake Kring-Schreifels / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka took another successful rehab step Saturday morning, throwing 35 pitches again, this time to hitters in a shortened simulated game.
Tanaka threw a range of all his pitches to Brendan Ryan and Zelous Wheeler, tossing 20 to start, resting in the dugout for five minutes, and then finishing his workout with 15 more in front of pitching coach Larry Rothschild, manager Joe Girardi and a large contingent of media.
"I wasn't able to hit my spots as much as I wanted to. I feel it's a little bit still rusty," said Tanaka, who felt no pain as he is recovering from a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. "There were some good balls that I was able to throw. It was a good step, so I want to keep moving forward."
Rothschild called balls and strikes behind the mound and both Ryan and Wheeler, who later said Tanaka looked "great," took live swings, knowing which pitches were coming during his first round.
"The big thing is that he doesn't have pain and the ball is coming out OK," said Girardi. "The guys were talking about how hard it was to pick up the split and the arm motion, which is a good sign because it means he's not babying it and that's encouraging."
"I thought it was a good progression as long as he's healthy," said Rothschild. "His stuff's in the right direction, being able to throw 35 pitches and do full warmups and everything. ... He's not that far removed from pitching in a game."
Rothschild said his focus was on both Tanaka's facial gestures as well as his stamina and arm strength, all of which he said seemed to be fine. Rothschild, who believes Tanaka will only get sharper the more he throws form a mound, checked on him between sessions but doesn't want him to think too much as he rehabs.
"I'm not saving anything when I throw each pitch," said Tanaka, who hasn't pitched in a game since July 11. "I'm not scared when I'm throwing the splitter. I think it was a little bit rusty, but I feel that I'm being able to throw the splitter how I have been throwing before I got hurt."
That's good news for the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman, who expect Tanaka to return in September and hopefully provide an extra boost in their hunt for the playoffs. As for the next step, the Yankees don't have a definitive plan just yet.
"He's going to have to make some rehab starts," said Girardi. "I'm not exactly sure how we're going to be able to do it as we build him up because you're going to run out of Minor League season, but we'll be creative enough to do whatever we have to do to get him ready."
Torre finds a home in Monument Park
NEW YORK -- Joe Torre has had quite the summer, and it continued Saturday when the Yankees honored their former manager by retiring his No. 6 and recognizing his managerial success with a plaque in Monument Park.
Now serving as MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, Torre made six World Series appearances and won four championships in his 12-year tenure as skipper from 1996-2007. He led his club to the postseason each year as manager, boasting 1,173 wins to 767 regular-season losses.
"When you know the neighborhood you're in out there, it's pretty cool, it's unbelievable," said Torre. "This is the Yankees, you start talking about number retirements."
Torre was shuttled in a cart from Monument Park with Yogi Berra to home plate where a large contingent of former managers, coaches and players sat waiting for him. That group included former managers Jim Leyland and Tony La Russa, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame with him a month ago, as well as former coaches Lee Mazzilli, Ron Guidry, Jose Cardenal and Willie Randolph.
Before a brief speech, he unveiled a replica of the plaque and received a matted frame of his jersey as well as a lifetime achievement ring. The New York City Mayor's Office also officially declared Saturday as "Joe Torre Day."
As Torre spoke to the crowd, he was quick to recall some of his favorite stories with his former players -- David Cone, Hideki Matsui, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte -- giving each a personal, gratuitous anecdote. He also made sure to reference former owner George Steinbrenner and longtime friend and coach Don Zimmer, who was represented by his wife, Jean Soot.
"I held it together better than I thought," said Torre. "When I saw Soot Zimmer coming out of the dugout and I start seeing the players I get choked up. I can't help it. It was every bit as special as I thought it would be."
"Obviously, it was great day and it's nice to win on a day like today when so many people came back," current Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after his club's 5-3 victory over the White Sox. "Joe meant a ton to all of us. He really did. [Jeter] talked about him being a second father. I think all of us talked about him being a mentor to us. To see Yogi back in the house was great and all the people that came back and the message from Mel [Stottlemyre] and to see Soot Zimmer. Joe meant a lot to a lot of people and I think you saw that today."
• With righty Scott Carroll on the mound Saturday, Girardi penciled in a left-handed-heavy lineup, sitting Derek Jeter for a "typical off-day," and pairing Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, respectively, at the top of the order.
"[Gardner] is a guy who really works the count and [Jacoby's] on and had a chance to do some things. They sent their left-handed reliever [Eric Surkamp] out, so I don't have to worry about stacking lefties today."
Ellsbury and Gardner combined to go 0-for-8, but the middle of the lineup delivered in the 5-3 victory.
• Carlos Beltran made his return as designated hitter in the fifth spot since sitting out three games with elbow soreness. He hit his 15th home run leading off the sixth and finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
"I haven't talked to him [today], but I talked to him last night," said Girardi. "We thought about pinch-hitting him last night. That's how encouraged we were. If he comes in and I see him and he says, 'My arm doesn't feel good,' then I'll switch it."
• With Saturday's victory, the Yankees have come from behind in 13 of their last 17 victories.
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.