All that remains in the mind of Masahiro Tanaka is rebuilding arm strength. If it were up to Tanaka, the Yankees would stamp “Healed” on his forehead and just count the days until he pitches again.

Fortunately, such decisions are not up to the individual.

Tanaka, who last pitched July 8, believes he is healthy after a 35-pitch session Wednesday when he worked in breaking balls and splitters for the first time since his injury. Tanaka was put on the disabled list with a slight tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow July 9.

And his first re-acquaintance with breaking balls left Tanaka feeling fine, granted a little rusty, but definitely wanting more.

“Absolutely,” Tanaka said through a translator when asked if he felt the health issue is behind him. “I feel that I’ve gotten the health to the point where the elbow is fine now. I’m more looking toward playing in a game now. But even with that said, I do have to be cautious about the elbow.”
Hence, the gradual build-up. When will he throw again?

“I don’t have a time frame,” manager Joe Girardi said of Tanaka’s return before the Yankees’ 5-2 loss to the Astros at the Stadium. “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. … The fact that he felt good today was encouraging. We’ll see how he feels [Thursday]. That’s important.”

Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees in the offseason, was 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA when he was shut down. He threw 25 pitches — all fastballs — off a mound on Saturday for the first time since receiving PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections three weeks ago. Now with breaking balls added to his comeback repertoire, everybody seemed upbeat.