JULY 11, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STATEMENT FROM YANKEES RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER MASAHIRO TANAKA
“As recently announced from the team, I will be going through some treatment and rehab on my injured elbow over the next several weeks. I give everything I have every time I take the ball. With that, I also know that there will always be a risk of injury when playing this game that I love. Right now I feel that the most important thing for me is to keep my head up, remain focused on the task at hand and devote all my energy into healing the injury in order to come back strong.
“I want to apologize to the Yankees organization, my teammates and our fans for not being able to help during this time. I accept this injury as a challenge, but I promise to do everything I can to overcome this setback and return to the mound as soon as possible.”
Masahiro Tanaka has been diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, and the Yankees are hopeful that the right-hander will be able to rehab the injury and avoid season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Tanaka has been seen by three doctors, none of whom have recommended that Tanaka should have surgery at this time. If Tanaka’s rehab program is successful, he could be on a Major League mound in six weeks.
“Hopefully no more than six weeks. Time will tell,” Cashman said. “It’s a disappointing situation and one that none of us wanted to be talking about or experiencing. Unfortunately the facts are the facts. We found out now and we know what we’re dealing with.”
Cashman said that the tear to the pitcher’s UCL is being described as “small,” and that Tanaka has been scheduled to have a platelet-rich plasma injection administered next week in New York.
Should the rehab attempt be unsuccessful, Tanaka would likely require Tommy John surgery. The normal expected recovery time of that procedure is 12 to 18 months.
“Obviously the protocols put in play are recommendations with the hope that it’s a solution,” Cashman said. “If he’s a failed rehab, certainly it does not rule out that Tommy John would be the recommendation.”
Tanaka was seen in Seattle by Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad, as well as noted orthopedist Dr. David Altchek and Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who examined Tanaka in Los Angeles before he signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees. ElAttrache used an MRI taken in January to confirm that the tear was not a pre-existing injury.
He experienced his worst outing as a big leaguer on Tuesday, surrendering five earned runs and 10 hits – both season highs – over 6 2/3 innings in a 5-3 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field. After beginning the year 11-1 with a 1.99 ERA, Tanaka was 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA in his last four outings.
Tanaka traveled to New York on Wednesday for an MRI after complaining of soreness. The Yankees placed Tanaka on the 15-day disabled list later that day with what was termed inflammation at the time, pending analysis of the MRI results.
He is the fourth member of the Yankees’ Opening Day rotation to be placed on the disabled list, joining Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda. Cashman said that Tanaka’s injury would not change his stance of being an aggressive buyer leading up to the July 31 non-waivers Trade Deadline.
“We’ve been aggressive because now we’ve got four starters that we were planning to have in the rotation are out,” Cashman said. “Because of that, we have been aggressive and we will continue to be aggressive unless I’m told otherwise. We are in the middle of a division fight and we want to stay in the fight.”
Tanaka was off to a sensational start in his rookie season, posting a 12-4 record and a 2.51 ERA in his first 18 starts and earning selection as an American League All-Star. Tanaka has been replaced on the AL’s roster by Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, but Tanaka is still invited to attend the July 15 All-Star Game festivities at Target Field.
“I’m certainly disappointed for our player. I’m disappointed for our organization,” Cashman said. “He’s an important piece. We’ve had a lot of important pieces that we’ve seen miss action and he’s an important piece as well. We have to continue to figure a way to plug the hole and also be hopeful and optimistic for Masahiro.”
Yangervis Solarte has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and is in tonight’s lineup at third base.
The move was made after Carlos Beltran was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he expects Beltran to return to the lineup in a week.
Additionally, Masahiro Tanaka will see team physician Christopher Ahmad tonight in Seattle. The Yankees expect to have a diagnosis to announce within the next 24 hours.
Masahiro Tanaka could be racking up a few unexpected frequent flyer miles.
The Yankees shipped the right-hander from Cleveland back to New York for an MRI on his sore right elbow on Wednesday, and they would like to have team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad examine Tanaka in person as soon as possible.
The only problem is that Ahmad and most of the nation’s top orthopedic surgeons have gathered in Seattle for a major convention that begins on Thursday. If you recall, that’s why CC Sabathia couldn’t line up a visit with Dr. James Andrews until July 14.
Not wanting to wait that long, Tanaka has decided to fly to Seattle to expedite the process. He could be on a plane as soon as today. One benefit of the conference: if the Yankees want to seek a second (or third) opinion after Ahmad’s diagnosis, they should be able to do so quite easily.
“You just hope and pray that we get good news, that it’s something minor,” outfielder Brett Gardner said. “You worry about anybody, but he’s pretty special, what he’s been able to do the first half of the season.”
Carlos Beltran sustained two small facial fractures in a batting practice mishap on Wednesday afternoon, but the Yankees are hopeful that the veteran switch-hitter will be able to avoid landing on the disabled list.
Beltran was scratched from the starting lineup for New York’s 5-4, 14-inning victory over the Indians after a batted ball ricocheted off a protective ‘L’ screen in an indoor batting cage, striking him in the face.
“You don’t expect that to happen when you’re practicing,” Beltran said. “I had a headache for the whole day. Now it’s getting better. Hopefully tomorrow it will get better and I could be back soon.”
Beltran had some bruising on the bridge of his nose, but relatively little swelling. He said that the Yankees want to make sure that he feels fine on Thursday, and added that there is some concern about a possible concussion.
“I don’t know what the team’s going to do,” Beltran said. “With the concussion things, teams take that serious. Honestly, I don’t feel like I have that. But at the end of the day it’s not my decision.”
Derek Jeter replaced Beltran in the lineup and went 2-for-6 with a run scored. Beltran missed the first two games of New York’s series against the Indians with swelling behind his right knee.
“You can only change the lineup so many times and then you run out of people. It’s difficult,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He felt really good until he did that and then we had to send him for X-Rays and a CT-scan. I have to figure out what we’re going to do.”
Brett Gardner was held out of the Yankees’ lineup on Wednesday with what the speedster is calling a lower abdominal strain, an injury that bothered him during New York’s 5-3 loss to the Indians on Tuesday.
Gardner said that he was examined after the game, fearing a hernia. A doctor confirmed that was not the case, and Gardner said that he should be able to be in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale in Cleveland.
“It was bothering me during the game,” Gardner said. “I just really felt it yesterday. I actually had a bad stomach bug three or four days ago, so I didn’t know if maybe it had something to do with that. The more the game went on, the more I felt that it wasn’t necessarily my stomach.”
Girardi said that Gardner was dealing with dehydration over the weekend against the Twins. Gardner said that head athletic trainer Steve Donohue advised him to take a full day off without swinging or running.
“It’s a little strain or aggravation,” Gardner said. “I actually feel a lot better today than I did last night after the game, so that’s a very good thing.”
With Masahiro Tanaka on the 15-day disabled list, the Yankees’ starter for Sunday at Baltimore is now listed as TBA. Girardi suggested that Chase Whitley would be an option to draw the start, and that he could use his bullpen liberally in the game.
“It’s the last four days before the break and you’ve got a lot of days off,” Girardi said. “There’s a lot of different things. It’ll really depend on the next four days.”
Michael Pineda, one of the four members of the Yankees’ Opening Day rotation currently on the disabled list, is still just playing catch in Tampa, Fla. and is not expected to be big league ready until mid-August at the earliest. Girardi said that Pineda is scheduled to throw a bullpen near the end of this week.
On this date in 2011, Derek Jeter became the 28th player all-time to record 3,000 hits, accomplishing the feat with a third-inning solo home run off Rays left-hander David Price at Yankee Stadium.