It's anybody guess at this point whether we see Masahiro Tanaka pitch in a New York Yankees uniform again this season. Tanaka, injured elbow and all, looked like a good bet two weeks ago. Then things went backward and he looked like a really bad bet.
The latest? He'll throw a bullpen session again Saturday and see what happens.
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi knows this much: He doesn't want to wait until next February to see Tanaka pitch against real competition to find out whether Tanaka's elbow is salvageable or whether he needs Tommy John surgery. Girardi told reporters Thursday:
''He will pitch somewhere. He has to throw. You can't wait until next spring.''
That sounds a bit like frustration speaking, but Girardi is absolutely right. When you're staring at 12 months of surgery and rehab time, there's no use wasting six months in limbo.
The Tanaka story continues to remind us of Matt Harvey's situation last year, in which Harvey was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL, tried to rehab it, but eventually opted for surgery. With a partial tear, it's going to tear fully one day — it could be two months or it could be two years — so sometimes the most prudent approach is to just submit to surgery.
Tanaka has been pitching in bullpen sessions and simulated games, but Girardi wants to see him in an actual game scenario. That could mean we see Tanaka in pinstripes in September, or it could mean he's pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
Before his injury, Tanaka's rookie season was everything the Yankees had hoped for when they spent $155 million to sign him. He's 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA, but hasn't pitched since July 9.
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