Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka's attempt to return from a torn elbow ligament without undergoing Tommy John surgery hit a roadblock Friday when the New York Yankees announced he would return to New York ahead of the team with what was termed as "general soreness'' in his pitching arm.

"I want to be a little bit cautious. I haven't been throwing for a couple of weeks and then I started throwing again and built up the number of pitches that I've been throwing,'' Tanaka said through his interpreter, Shingo Horie. "I think that's the reason why there's a little bit of extra soreness in the arm itself."

Both Tanaka and manager Joe Girardi stressed that the pitcher was not experiencing pain in his elbow, but an overall sensation of soreness throughout his right arm that would cause his next bullpen session to be postponed indefinitely. Tanaka threw 49 pitches in a simulated game at Comerica Park in Detroit on Thursday, and as reported by ESPNNewYork.com afterward, expressed concerns about his ability to return this season.

Now, any possible return by Tanaka this season is very much in doubt.

"I don't have percentages,'' Girardi said when asked what he thought the chances of Tanaka pitching again this season were. "We'd like him to pitch for us, too. But as I've said all along, this is something we're either going to know or not know when he gets into competition. Right now he's having a little setback. Let's hope that's all it is.''

Girardi said Tanaka would return to New York on Friday night, two days ahead of the team, which is in Toronto for a three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays.

"We are sending him back because he wants to work out at [Yankee Stadium],'' Girardi said. "It's just a better facility to work at. Because you have a better gym. And you have a rehab guy who's back there who works for us.''

Both Yankees head trainer Stevie Donohue and his assistant, Mark Littlefield, are with the team in Toronto, as is the Yankees strength and conditioning coach Matt Krause. Girardi said Tanaka would work out in New York with Michael Schuck, who has worked this season with CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and David Phelps.