TAMPA, Fla. (AP) New York Yankees scheduled opening-day starter Masahiro Tanaka threw 74 pitches off a bullpen mound and during a simulated game Thursday in preparation for his first spring training appearance next week.
The Japanese right-hander threw 30 pitches over two innings against Chase Headley, Brett Gardner and Chris Carter in the simulated game. He gave up a single to Headley, walked a batter and induced a double play from Carter.
''He looked crisp,'' Headley said.
Tanaka was a concern at the start of spring training last year after arthroscopic surgery in October 2015 to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow.
''Overall I think I feel the condition of my body is better than last year around the same time,'' Tanaka said through a translator. ''Just a little bit ahead. Started training a little bit earlier than the previous year.''
Tanaka went 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 31 starts last year.
''The arm speed is good,'' pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. ''Right now he's in a good spot. We just need to make sure it stays that way.''
Tanaka's $155 million, seven-year contract allows him to terminate the deal after this season, give up a $23 million annual salary from 2018-20 and become a free agent. He doesn't plan to think about the matter until after the season.
Tanaka is 39-16 with a 3.12 ERA over 75 starts in three seasons with the Yankees. He was limited to 44 starts over his first two seasons due to injuries.
Reliever Dellin Betances threw 23 pitches during his first spring training batting practice session, facing the same trio of batters that hit against Tanaka.
''Pretty impressive first day,'' Gardner said.
Betances plans to pitch two or three times with the Yankees before departing March 5 to join the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic.
''I got a text from Joe Torre early in the offseason, he invited to play for Team USA,'' Betances said. ''For me, I owe it to my parents. They were born in the Dominican Republic. They're excited. They can't wait.''
OF Jacoby Ellsbury, who missed a couple days for the birth of his daughter, won't play in Friday's exhibition opener against Philadelphia. ... Luis Sojo has rejoined the organization and will manage the Yankees Gulf Coast League East team this season.