NEW YORK - An upbeat Masahiro Tanaka is set to start Saturday at Fenway, giving him more confidence that he can avoid surgery on the small torn ligament in his throwing elbow and be strong for 2015.
"From where I am right now, I should be able to have a good offseason of training on what I want to do and I should be good to go next season," Tanaka said through his translator.
Tanaka, 25, made his first start in more than two months on Sunday. He threw 70 pitches over 5 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on five hits, while striking out four and walking none.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Tanaka will be allotted 80-85 pitches against the Red Sox.
Tanaka played catch in the outfield prior to Monday's game. He said he only felt normal soreness.
"He was all smiles today, which was good," Girardi said.
The Yankees signed Tanaka for a total of $175 million this past winter. He began the season as a legitimate Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year candidate, going 11-1 with a 1.99 ERA in his first 14 starts. He struggled in his next four starts before landing on the disabled list with a ligament tear.
The Yankees will enter next spring with many questions in their rotation besides Tanaka. CC Sabathia, coming off knee surgery, played catch Monday for the first time since May. Ivan Nova will try to return a month into the regular season following Tommy John surgery.