Aug 20, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) sits in the dugout prior to the Yankees taking on the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Tanaka suffers setback, why he needs surgery now

Masahiro Tanaka suffered a setback in his attempt to avoid Tommy John surgery on Friday. Tanaka used a platelet rich plasma injection and is currently on a planned pitching schedule in order to try and rehab his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

Despite glowing reports from New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi and teammate Brendan Ryan on Thursday afternoon, Tanaka is feeling what has been termed “general soreness” in his right arm. Thursday Tanaka said that he was feeling only “normal soreness.”

I am honestly not sure what the difference is nor what that even means but Girardi did say that when he asked Tanaka about the pain, Tanaka did not pinpoint a specific spot on his arm such as his elbow.

Tanaka did not seem worried when speaking with reporters through his interpreter.

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. “I think that’s the reason why there’s a little bit of extra soreness in the arm itself.”

He plans to return to Yankee Stadium this weekend to be able to continue his workouts with the Yankees trainers.

“If I can go back to New York, back to Yankee Stadium, the whole environment is there, the workout room and everything,” Tanaka said. “I’ll be able to use that. Compared to the workout room here, which is very small, I’ll be able to work out the way I want to, so that’s why I’m going back.”

Girardi on the other hand was worried about Tanaka’s arm. The right-handers bullpen sessions are now suspended for now. I think Girardi can see the writing on the wall that Tanaka will need surgery but he isn’t willing to admit it just yet.

“He’s not going to throw a bullpen for about maybe a week,” Girardi said. “But as I’ve said, if you shut him down, it’s surgery. It’s not like it’s going to be, ‘Well, let’s see how it is next year.’ We’re going to proceed and it’s either going to be he’s healthy or he needs surgery.”

That doesn’t sound good. The reason that Girardi is still keeping the door open just doesn’t make any sense. They are wasting valuable time.

It takes 12-18 months for a pitcher to recovery from the surgical procedure. If they want Tanaka to pitch in 2015 the Yankees need to shut him down. They just do.

It’s understandable that Tanaka wants to come back and pitch this season. Sometimes the rehab option does work – for awhile – however, almost every pitcher I have seen opt for the rehab route has ended up having the surgery.

Sometimes it happens while they are still rehabbing, sometimes the need for the surgery comes later down the road. Either way, it’s really sad to say, but delaying the inevitable is a waste of time.

Just ask New York Mets’ ace Matt Harvey who attempted rehabilitation last season but ended up opting for the surgical route because his first choice just was not working to repair his torn UCL.

The attempted rehab is what is keeping the Mets’ star off the field for the entire season. He is almost through his recovery but will not be finished soon enough to play this season. Harvey has expressed multiple times to the public that he desperately wants to play in 2014 but that will not happen.

The longer Tanaka waits to have the surgery and pitches through, what I suspect is more than simply “general soreness,” the longer it will take him to return to the mound.

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka New York Yankees

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