8/28/2014 6:35 P.M. ET
Tanaka uses entire repertoire in simulated game
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The catcher's glove popped with good velocity as Masahiro Tanaka worked off the mound on a sunny Thursday morning at Comerica Park, and while the hurler's stuff showed some rust, the Yankees came away with excitement about what might be around the corner.
Tanaka threw 49 pitches in a three-inning simulated game, using his full repertoire to Brendan Ryan, who rode the early bus and batted from both sides of the plate. Ryan said that he thinks the rehabbing right-hander looks close to big league ready.
"The pinpoint [command] is probably going to be the last thing to come. I would expect that to be there pretty soon," Ryan said. "He can go out there and get outs now, just on stuff alone. The sooner the better. I'd say it was a pretty good day."
Tanaka said that he has been feeling only normal soreness, another good sign as he attempts to avoid Tommy John surgery. He expressed dissatisfaction with some of his pitches, having thrown his slider, splitter, curveball and both fastballs in the session.
"I think some of the balls I am throwing, I'm still not able to hit my spots," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "The rust is still there, so I still have some work to do to get back to game-ready."
The Yankees are bringing Tanaka along with the hopes of having him make starts in September, and manager Joe Girardi said that Tanaka will need at least two more sessions against hitters before that can happen. The Yankees want to build Tanaka to at least 75 pitches.
"You have an idea that it's possible that he could come back at some point here," Girardi said.
Ryan made some solid contact, lining a couple of balls to center field and one to deep right-center, but he was also late on many of Tanaka's pitches.
Tanaka said that he is throwing his trademark splitter "worry-free," and the Yankees have been watching Tanaka's facial expressions closely to see if he is masking discomfort.
"I didn't see him favoring anything, and that's a good sign," Girardi said.
Ryan also came away encouraged. He said that from his end, some of Tanaka's splitters "were so dirty you just forget to swing."
"It feels like the velocity is there; some of them are a little bit up, but that speaks to being off for a while," Ryan said. "I don't expect him to be pinpoint or anything like that. It's just nice to see him throwing without any pain."
Jeter focused on playoff race after Motown farewell
DETROIT -- They stood, a crowd of 42,647 strong, as Derek Jeter stepped into the batter's box on Thursday for his final regular-season at-bat in the state of Michigan. Joba Chamberlain stepped off the mound, permitting those cheers a few extra moments of life.
It was a snapshot moment for the Yankees' captain, but spoiled by the fact that Jeter grounded out on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, then walked off the diamond in the next half-inning as Alex Avila's RBI single gave the Tigers a 3-2 victory at Comerica Park.
The loss bumped the Yankees three games behind the Tigers and Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot. A dark October was never on Jeter's agenda, and the 40-year-old continues to have faith that the Yankees can win the necessary games to participate in the postseason.
"When you play the teams that are ahead of you, you don't have to look at the scoreboard," Jeter said. "We play our division, so we need to have the approach that we have to win every day. What do we have, 30 games left? You can't sit around and look at the scoreboard. It's in our own hands, so we need to win."
The loss also moved the Yankees 6 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the AL East, although Jeter said that he has not given up hope of catching Baltimore.
"It's always the goal, you know what I mean?" Jeter said. "Until something else happens and you have to alter your goals, that's the goal. But once again, we play our division, so if we win our games we'll be fine. I don't ever think you set your sights on something less than you can accomplish, so our goal is to win games. We need to win tomorrow."
• Jacoby Ellsbury stole two bases in Wednesday's 8-4 win over the Tigers and has been successful in each of his last 13 attempts since July 18. He has 37 stolen bases this season, ranked second in the American League behind the Astros' Jose Altuve (49).
• Derek Jeter recorded his 539th career double on Wednesday, tying Al Simmons for 34th place on baseball's all-time list. He needs one double to tie boyhood idol Dave Winfield (540) and Joe Medwick for 32nd place.