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Masahiro Tanaka injured: Yankees ace to undergo an MRI exam on his right arm

Jul 9, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

Masahiro Tanaka AP

After a spectacular start to his MLB career Masahiro Tanaka has looked somewhat human of late, allowing nine runs and a .333 opponents’ batting average in his last two starts. And now we may know why: According to George King the New York Post the Yankees right-hander is headed back to New York to undergo an MRI exam on his right arm.

No further details yet, but Tanaka has allowed a career-high number of runs in back-to-back starts, including five runs on 10 hits against the Indians last night. He tossed at least 100 pitches in 14 of his first 16 starts–including 116 on June 28–but has totaled just 85 and 99 pitches in his recent poor outings.

Tanaka is in line to potentially start the All-Star game for the AL with a league-leading 12 wins and a 2.52 ERA that ranks second to Felix Hernandez of the Mariners. He also leads the league with three complete games and has thrown 129 innings with a 135/19 K/BB ratio.

And now Yankees fans hold their collective breath waiting to hear news on the team’s $155 million ace.

UPDATE: For now the Yankees have placed Tanaka on the disabled list with what is being called elbow inflammation.

  1. rcali - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    How do you say “TJ” in Japanese?

    • realgone2 - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:56 PM


      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:21 PM


    • Caught Looking - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Just placed on the 15 day DL

    • Ayase - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:16 PM

      we still call it Tommy John here, with a Kansai dialect accent.

    • xmatt0926x - Jul 9, 2014 at 7:13 PM

      I believe they pronounce it….Cliff Lee..

  2. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Ouch. If he goes down, the Yanks may as well just pack it in and call it a season.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      And, the Rays might actually decide to pull Price back off the table …. they’re still, really, out of it, but you never know.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:14 PM

        And, the “DL” update is not good news … even if not a TJ, the generic “inflammation” is not good news either.

  3. number42is1 - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:47 PM


  4. pete2112 - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Holy cow… sigh.

  5. kingscourt25 - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    ” He tossed at least 100 pitches in 14 of his first 16 starts–including 116 on June 28–but has totaled just 85 and 99 pitches in his recent poor outings.”

    wth Girardi

    • 18thstreet - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:12 PM

      I’m willing to jump to conclusions for the sake of argument, but shouldn’t the blame be on the medical staff? Is it really the manager’s fault?

    • yahmule - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      This could only seem excessive in hindsight.

      • sabatimus - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        Perhaps. But the baseball itself is different in MLB than in Japan. It’s tough to know what’s going to be the “right” way to use a pitcher. Oftentimes pitchers get eased into the season and are on pitch counts; that doesn’t seem to be the case with Girardi’s handling of Tanaka. And Tanaka has to deal with the added stress of having to get used to a somewhat different type of game (with arguably tougher opponents) in a new country. Depending on how Tanaka is handling the stress, it can affect a pitcher’s arm–more stress typically means more prone to injury.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:32 PM

        in Japan, they let pitchers throw a LOT of pitches per game.

        but they don’t pitch as often either.

        even in youth baseball, pitchers throw and throw over there.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        IMO, it has nothing to do with Japan or a different baseball. Nomo pitched for years over here, no TJ problems. Yu Darvish has so far had nothing more than a stiff neck.

      • randomdigits - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:51 PM

        Darvish’s father refused to allow him the type of workload that is the norm over there.

  6. uyf1950 - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    I’m crossing my fingers and toes that its the best case and he just misses his one start before the ASB. Then returns after it. We will just have to wait and see.

  7. trbmb - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    Have no fear, Cashboy will have the Yankee checkbook ready to ‘rock and roll’ and will go execute his magical Pitcher discovery skill.

    • pete2112 - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:57 PM

      What does it matter at this point? Even with a healthy Tanaka this team was going nowhere. This just means that we have yet another injured starter that has a huge contract. Throwing more money at another starter won’t fix anything.

      I miss the 90’s teams.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        85 wins takes the AL East. With a healthy Tanaka, the Yankees are absolutely contenders to win the division. I know that NYY fans supposedly only care about championships, but the division is/was within reach.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        Well, uh, no.

        With Sabathia out the rest of the year, the back 3/5 of the roster after Tanaka and a shaky Kuroda was teh suck and wasn’t going to hold up the full season anyway.

        Oh, wait. My bad. The Yankees traded for McCarthy. With his pitching, that will help …

        Help the fans watch more of his grounders go through that infield.

      • roundballsquarebox24 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        I agree with the part of your comment that says that just throwing money at the situation won’t fix anything. However, I don’t miss the 90s teams. Those were the days when having the most money all but guaranteed success. Top players went on the free agent market fairly young and one of the “Top Dogs” in the game was sure to pick him up, leaving the game pretty lopsided. Those days aren’t “long gone” yet, but that dynamic is changing, fast. All kinds of teams are locking guys up young, and we also have an influx of young guys making a big impact. You can have a 200 million dollar payroll all you want, but that doesn’t stop another team from sending out their 22 year old fireballer who is YEARS away from free agency and can dominate your lineup while making half a million dollars a year. The only guys who you can throw all that money at are free agents, and elite players are reaching free agency later and later in their careers. I think this is good for the game by leveling the playing field a little bit and forcing teams to get involved with the “new” way of doing this (farm development, advanced scouting, etc).

  8. theravenmaniac - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    So sad… Teardrop O O,

  9. realgone2 - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    tee hee

    • sabatimus - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      Dude I’m a Sox fan and I don’t find this funny.

  10. mikhelb - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    The Yanks are not going to be able to put up a fight even with a healthy Tanaka. Their biggest problem has not been pitching but the batting is horrendous, fielding a weak noodle-arm in Roberts at 2B, McCann at C and others who wouldn’t even make the team for the Padres or the dbacks. As soon as team gets 2 runs ahead of them in the score they are mostly unable to make up ground past the 4th inning. Heck, they have lost what? 40 games when rival teams score 4 runs off of them?

    • paperlions - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:11 PM

      Yep, and their lineup is old….old guys aren’t generally known for getting better, stronger, and healthier as the long 162-game season progresses.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      And, with Sabathia presumably out the rest of the year, the back half of that rotation’s gonna blow soon enough anyway.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      When you’re DH-ing Jeter tonight because Beltran bounced a ball into his own eye during batting practice …

  11. greymares - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    I hope the kid’s not hurt, but anything that causes angst for the Yankee fans is a good thing.

  12. mikhelb - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    What if… what if… it is a Yankees strategy so Tanaka avoids pitching next sunday, avoids the all star and can start ASAP after the All Star break. As it was, Tanaka was set to pitch Sunday and with regular rest again in the first game after the All-Star game. If they delay that a bit they can give Masahiro extra rest.

    • emdash01 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      They could just say they don’t want him to pitch in the All-Star Game, if that was the case?

  13. sdelmonte - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    The last thing this season needs is one more big name pitcher out for a prolonged stretch. The Tommy John cloud keeps getting bigger and it’s been a drag on the season.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:21 PM


      Anyone rooting for THIS GUY to be injured obviously isn’t a baseball fan. The Yankees were plodding along at .500 with him. That’s enough for Yankee-haters like me.

      Tanaka is a joy to watch, and I hope he’s okay.

      • sdelmonte - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        I don’t root for anyone to be injured. I feel the usual obnoxious sense of unfair joy when the Yankees’ season disintegrates as players are hurt, but I would much rather see them lose even though the players are healthy.

        But surely in this case, with a special talent, as with Matt Harvey, you cringe at the idea of him being out for more a few days.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        The best-case scenario for most of the baseball world is for the Yankees to be humiliated in the playoffs. Yankee Elimination Day is a great moment for us all. Well, other than Yankee fans.

      • sdelmonte - Jul 9, 2014 at 8:30 PM

        I still remember how happy I was in 2002 when the Angels stopped the Yankees’ run.

      • sabatimus - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        Ugggghhh…Matt Harvey. That situation still makes me want to break stuff.

      • indaburg - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        What sdelmonte said. I enjoy the Yankees losing but Tanaka is a rare talent. Baseball is worse without him.

  14. vanmorrissey - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    Would he not start Sunday, 4 days rest, thereby eliminating him from ASG start?

  15. 18thstreet - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    Tanaka’s contract is more complex than just being a $155 million deal. He can opt out after 2017. So there’s two paths for the Yankees:

    Plan A: Tanaka is great, and opts out. Four years, $88 million.
    Plan B: Tanaka isn’t great, sticks around. Seven years, $155 million.


  16. icanspeel - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    MRI’s can come back negative.. so many people jump to conclusions.

    • yahmule - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      I’m not ready to panic, but I reserve the right to panic.

    • geoknows - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      Yes, and people can also have negative MRIs when they have a real problem. I know, because it happened to me.

      • yahmule - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:38 PM

        Me too. I went in for an arthroscopic meniscectomy and found out the MRI didn’t pick up on the shredded ACL.

  17. irishlad19 - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    This is consistent with the Yanks recent poor luck with pitchers, looked great then breaks down.
    Even as a Red Sox fan I feel for Yankees fans if this is season-ending for Tanaka.

  18. ironcurtin64 - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Wow, this surprises me (somewhat). Japanese pitchers, for whartever reason, require TJ surgury at a significantly lower percentage than everyone else.

    • Ayase - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:35 PM

      We have our Koshien managers to thank for that.

      the reason why is because of their pitch counts, a no.1 pitcher (Ace) only pitches 1 or 2 times in the tournament and only them have higher pitch counts compared to other starters. Mostly, it’s about physical but rather a mental thing for them, there is longevity in it, only if you know how to manage their use properly, and days of rest to are also a factor.

  19. shadowcell - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    Yankees or not, this Tommy John plague is getting pretty depressing. Hopefully it’s a bullet Tanaka dodges.

  20. tfbuckfutter - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    So if his elbow is blown out can we agree that he assimilated into our culture way faster than any other Japanese player?

    You know, unless Hideki Irabu was skinny in Japan. I don’t really remember.

    • jennstergersburnedretinas - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      Toads are never skinny

  21. jennstergersburnedretinas - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:34 PM


  22. Ayase - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    This is really what I am talking about, 6-7 days of rest are completely different compared to there, even in Tanaka’s first year he is already having trouble coping up with the days of rest in the MLB…

    Tanaka has and always been durable during his last 7 yrs with Japan.

    • renaado - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:40 PM

      Are you a pessimist? I can really tell that you are…

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:59 PM

      Again, Nomo had no major injury problems in the US, and so far, Tanaka has had nothing worse than a sore neck.

  23. renaado - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    I really hard this find to believe… He was always durable back with Rakuten.

  24. cathypogo - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    Make sure the MRI is WITHOUT contrast, dealing with being POISONED via MRI Contrast myself, I have contracted FIBROSIS of all tissues of the body, turning into a statue from the inside out. This is a painful debilitating process, doctors do NOT want to be part of diagnosing it either, because it is an “IATROGENIC” caused disease WHY THE COMMERCIALS FOR FIBROMYALGIA? (NSF is the name yet I do NOT have the kidney disease issues YET!) I did the research and found the blood tests via Mayo Medical labs to prove I have high amounts of a drug in me that is supposed to leave the body via urination ? HIGH amounts of MAGNEVIST GADOLINIUM contrast and fibrosis in dermal tissue biopsies, GADOLINIUM found in dermal tissue as well.
    WAKE UP EVERYONE, do NOT let the imaging companies, GE & BAYER, stick GADOLINIUM contrast into your veins, otherwise, you will live a life of pain! check out my FB Page! Catherine Nichols Pogorzelski

  25. scoobies05 - Jul 9, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    big time Orioles fan. can’t stand the Yankees. that being said, you never want to see injuries. especially for someone who has brightened up the baseball world. Tanaka is an amazing talent. hoping all is well so schoop. can hit a few more homers off of him

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