Masahiro Tanaka, the New York Yankees ace, was on his way to starting the second half of what could be a possible award winning season for the right-hander. Now he is on his way to the disabled list.
Tanaka was been flown back to New York from Cleveland early Wednesday, where the Yankees are currently playing a series against the Indians, to get an MRI on his pitching arm. The results of the MRI are not promising. The Yankees immediately placed Tanaka on the disabled list with “elbow soreness”.
After his Tuesday start Tanaka did not say anything about dealing with a possible injury simply telling reporters that his poor outing was because of his command.
“I think it had a lot to do with my command. A lot of my pitches were going right down the middle.”
A source later told ESPNNewYork.com that the pitcher had reported having discomfort in his arm but there was no indication as to whether it was his elbow or his shoulder. Apparently it was, most certainly, his elbow which is not a good sign for a pitcher. This has been especially true lately. Elbow soreness has been a pre-cursor for many pitchers who have later been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament which usually requires Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees declined to comment on the severity of Tanaka’s injury. The pitcher has yet to be examined by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad who was out of town at a conference for orthopedic surgeons in Seattle. Ahmad will examine Tanaka as soon as he returns but Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not say when exactly that would be. He did say,
“I think you always worry when a guy has an elbow MRI. But until Dr. Ahmad sees him, I don’t have much more for you.”
The 25- year old has struggled in his last four starts. In Tuesday night’s start Tanaka allowed a career high five runs on ten hits getting his third loss in his last four starts. He only has four total losses on the year. He has helped hold together an ailing Yankees rotation that has suffered losses like C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova.
Over the first half of the season Tanaka is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA, ;leading the league in wins. Over the off-season Tanaka came over after playing professional ball in Japan for seven years. He signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees.
Hopefully for both Tanaka and the Yankees, Tanaka will only need rest and will be back after the 15-days. If his ligament is torn it means the Yankees will have another starter out for the remainder of the season and part of next season. The recovery period after Tommy John surgery is usually 12-18 months for a pitcher.