When Masahiro Tanaka went on the disabled list with a partially torn UCL, the Yankees and their fans were worried Tanaka would be the latest pitcher to go under the knife and have Tommy John Surgery. Three doctors prescribed Tanaka to hold off on the surgery with hopes he could rehab and return to the team late in the season.
So far it seems to be working.
Tanaka played catch at Yankee Stadium yesterday and is slated to do so again today. However, can Tanaka avoid having Tommy John Surgery at this point or will Tommy John Surgery be an inevitable option?
Tanaka’s injury is eerily similar to another injury that occurred last season, last season’s injury involving New York Mets ace Matt Harvey. Harvey believed he could rehab through the injury and the Mets were initially optimistic. However, Harvey was unable to avoid the inevitable and eventually went under the knife, prompting him to miss the entire 2014 season, maybe even more.
Joe Girardi said in yesterday’s pregame that Tanaka had to face many hurdles before he could be cleared to pitch in the Yankees rotation. Of course, him reporting no pain while playing catch is a good sign, but the main test for Tanaka will have to be him throwing off a mound. If he can throw off a mound and still reports no pain, then there could be a chance he can be one of the very few to miss a significant amount of time to Tommy John Surgery. However, if Tanaka can’t pitch on the mound, then the Yankees might have to take a hard look at Tommy John Surgery being a possibility. They’re just hoping it doesn’t reach a point where they’ll be without their ace going into next season.