New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is tended after being hit by a ball off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton on July 4. Tanaka said he hasn’t had an concussion symptoms, but isn’t sure he’ll be able to make his first start. Adam Hunger/Associated Press

NEW YORK — Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is unsure whether he will be able to take his first turn through the rotation as he recovers from a line drive off his head.

Tanaka was hit on the right side near the temple by Giancarlo Stanton’s shot during batting practice on July 4. While the 31-year-old right-hander says he has no concussion symptoms, he has not thrown off a mound since.

New York opens the season July 23 at Washington, and Tanaka is projected as part of a rotation behind new ace Gerrit Cole, joined by James Paxton, J.A. Happ and perhaps Jordan Montgomery. He still hopes to avoid missing any starts.

“I want to be optimistic and say yes,” Tanaka said Tuesday through a translator. “But obviously the injury is at the head, so I think it’s something that I need to be cautious about and kind of take it careful, more so than other injuries.”

Right fielder Aaron Judge was close to returning to intrasquad games following a stiff neck that sidelined him since late last week.

Tanaka was taken to a hospital for a CT scan after he was hit. New York put Tanaka through the concussion protocol but he said he has not felt any symptoms.

BRAVES: Free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig and Atlanta have agreed to a one-year deal, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement is not official until Puig passes a physical.

The agreement helps the Braves address a depth problem in their outfield.

Puig hit a combined .267 with 24 homers and 84 RBI for Cincinnati and Cleveland in 2019. He also stole 19 bases.

The 29-year-old Puig was the last big-name free agent from the offseason who had not signed with a team.

Puig, from Cuba, made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013. He hit .263 with a career-high 28 homers for the Dodgers in 2017 and added 23 homers in 125 games in 2018.

The NL East champion Braves were facing a depth problem in their outfield even after signing Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million deal in the offseason.

CUBS: Anthony Rizzo’s back trouble flared up again after he took batting practice over the weekend, and the Chicago Cubs are sending the slugger for tests.

Rizzo has been dealing with back tightness during summer camp, a recurring problem throughout his career. The first baseman took live BP on Sunday before the issue surfaced again.

UMPIRES: About 10 Major League Baseball umpires have opted out this season, choosing not to work games in the shortened schedule because of concerns over the coronavirus.

Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press about the decisions on Tuesday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

RANGERS: Faced with the economic reality of a season with no fans in the stands, Rangers ownership on Tuesday indefinitely furloughed 12% of their employees, a total that came to just under 60 employees.

The Rangers had been among the first organizations in the majors to institute pay cuts when COVID-19 shut down baseball, but ownership had steadfastly maintained it had no plans for furloughs. But the Rangers had also been hopeful of fans being allowed into Globe Life Field this season after Gov. Greg Abbott issued directives allowing up to 50% capacity at pro sports venues.

Last week, however, Major League Baseball announced it would open the season to empty stadiums on July 23 and would re-evaluate attendance policies for August.

The employees who were furloughed on Tuesday will receive two weeks of severance pay and will continue to receive medical benefits through October. They ranged across both baseball operations and business, including operations outside of the Arlington offices. The Rangers organization also includes foreign employees across Latin America.

ROCKIES: All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon, the first major league player known to have tested positive for the coronavirus, returned to the Colorado Rockies for his first workout Monday after getting the all clear to rejoin his teammates.

“I feel great. I have felt that way for at least a couple of weeks now,” Blackmon said on a video conference call with reporters before taking batting and fielding practice at Coors Field.

“It’s nice to be back,” he added. “I was getting kind of bored sitting there in the basement in quarantine by myself.”

Blackmon said he was only mildly affected by the virus that has killed more than 130,000 Americans and claimed more than a half-million lives worldwide.

“I had a day and a half of symptoms and after that I started feeling much better,” Blackmon said, adding he hopes to be ready for the Rockies’ July 24 opener at Texas.

He said his illness wasn’t even as bad as the flu.


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