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BALTIMORE – James Paxton is on a track to rejoin the Yankees rotation next week.On the injured list since May 4 due to left knee inflammation, Paxton said he felt “next to nothing’’ as far as discomfort following his latest bullpen session, Tuesday afternoon at Camden Yards.But instead of instantly slotting him back into the rotation this weekend at Kansas City, the Yankees want Paxton to throw a three-inning, 60-pitch simulated game on Friday at Tampa, Fla.“As long as he gets through that final hurdle and he bounces back the next day, I think we'll all be satisfied with that,’’ manager Aaron Boone said of scheduling Paxton’s return.
On Monday, the Yankees open a seven-game homestand against the Padres and Red Sox.The left-handed Paxton confirmed that he was “ready to move on to the next step,’’ and was on board with the club’s plan to test him in a controlled environment first.“They want…to see how I respond to that, and for myself mentally, to not be thinking about (the knee) out there,’’ Paxton said. “It’s hard to go compete in a major league game when you’re worried about a part of your body hurting.“So, they want me to make sure I get that taken care of so I can go compete.’’More: Yankees' J.A. Happ at a loss to explain the long-ball trend

Tanaka Thursday

Masahiro Tanaka is “good to go’’ on Thursday, starting the four-game series finale against the Orioles.Drilled by a hard Yandy Diaz comebacker that left Tanaka with a bruised right shin during last Saturday’s start at Yankee Stadium, Tanaka reported “no problem at all’’ during his regular between-starts bullpen session on Tuesday.Tanaka also ran in the outfield at Camden Yards and said through an interpreter that he should be fine on Thursday. “I’m putting weight on it and there’s no problem,’’ said Tanaka, who has yielded just one run over 13 innings in his last two starts, both against the Rays.
More: Dellin Betances eyeing June return to Yankees; Giancarlo Stanton homers in 1st rehab game

Bullpen day

Boone offered that there’s “definitely a strong possibility’’ of making Friday a bullpen day at Kansas City.On Tuesday, right-hander David Hale was recalled from Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and added to the 40-man roster, with Miguel Andujar (labrum surgery, out for the season) transferred to the 60-day injured list. Left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. was optioned back to the minors.Boone used an “opener’’ last Sunday for the first time this season, choosing Chad Green. The Yankees have not listed a starter for Friday as yet. 
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Yankees manager Aaron Boone on James Paxton readying for Friday sim game, Masahiro Tanaka starting Thursday & Aaron Judge tracking pitches Pete Caldera, Staff Writer, @pcaldera

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