New York (AFP) - Injured New York Yankees star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka promised Friday to remain confident during rehabilitation in hopes of returning to the Major League Baseball team as quickly as possible.
The 25-year-old Japanese right-hander was placed on the Major League Baseball disabled list on Wednesday by the Yankees, who revealed Thursday that Tanaka had suffered a torn right elbow ligament.
Tanaka, a rookie in North America whose 12 wins lead the American League, could return in six weeks with successful rehabilitation.
But if that fails he could need ligament replacement surgery that would sideline him for a year to 18 months.
"I will be going through some treatment and rehab on my injured elbow over the next several weeks," Tanaka said in a statement.
"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."
Tanaka, who signed a seven-year deal worth $155 million with the Yankees after an unbeaten campaign last year for the Japan League champion Rakuten Eagles, apologized for the games he will miss as the Yankees try to close a four-game gap on American League East division leader Baltimore.
"I want to apologize to the Yankees organization, my teammates and our fans for not being able to help during this time," Tanaka said.
"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."
The Yankees have lost four of their five starting pitchers from the season-opening roster, including C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda as well as Tanaka.
Desperate for pitching help, the Yankees traded for 33-year-old Oakland left-hander Jeff Francis in exchange for cash and promoted right-hander Matt Daley from their top developmental club.
Francis, 33, has a career record of 70-80 with a 4.95 earned-run average and 847 strikeouts in 238 games.