Update: Tanaka feels good after 25 throws, will throw again tomorrow

8/4-8/7 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers
Yankees place David Phelps on 15-day DL, recall Matt Daley

3:43pm: Turns out it was only a 25-pitch throwing session, but that’s fine. Jack Curry says Tanaka threw from 60 feet off flat ground. “I think I got to the next step, so I’m very relieved about that,” said the righty to Dan Barbarisi. Tanaka will increase both the number of throws and distance in his next throwing session tomorrow.

2:11pm: As expected, Masahiro Tanaka played catch today for the first time since suffering a partially torn elbow ligament and receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection three weeks ago. Sweeny Murti says he made 50 throws and “felt good” with “no pain.”

Needless to say, that’s great news, though we still have to see how Tanaka feels in the coming days. Joe Girardi will surely talk more about the throwing session and the next step in Tanaka’s rehab when he speaks to the media at 4pm ET or so, so make sure you check back for an update.

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8/4-8/7 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers
Yankees place David Phelps on 15-day DL, recall Matt Daley
  • Andrew

    Think the optimism re: avoiding the surgery has to remain at a pretty low level until he’s actually made it through some prolonged mound work. Obviously this is a less-than-ideal thing to say immediately following some good news, but, have to keep a level head. Having a ligament tear, even partial, and not needing the surgery would be quite the exception to the rule. But hooray for some temporary hope at least.

    • Pete22

      You also have to consider the conditions that led to the tear. If they remain the same a new tear is likely to develop.

      I have said before that doubling his usage of the split from his Japan days likely places more stress on his elbow. So if Tanaka and the yankees believe that to be the case maybe he reduces his usage of the pitch to the levels he threw it in Japan. Might keep him healthy, but how much effectiveness he loses is anyones guess

  • bill

    Good news on the injury front? Didn’t know what was possible

  • Esedddardmil Rodgers

    Start him on a throwing program and get him back for September. They won’t go far without him and Pineda. If Detroit trots out Scherzer, Price, Sanchez, Porcello/Verlander and Oakland trots out Lester, Gray, Samarzidja, Kazmir and we trot out our current best healthy 4 Kuroda, McCarthy, Greene, Capuano we’ll get trounced. We need Tanaka, Pineda, Kuroda, McCarthy as our 4 and BGDP in that pen to have a puncher’s chance.

  • Farewell Mo

    Awesome news.

    God knows the Yankees and my fantasy team for that matter needs him back in the worst way

  • FLYER7

    Recall Wainwright made it by without surgery but eventually required it 3 years later…

    • Blake

      Odds are he will need TJ surgery at some point……but 3 years from now is much better than now for a lot do reasons and there is always the chance he never does.

      Still early and he has a long way to go yet but given that the season is essentially riding on his healthy this is at least something positive

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Five years.

      I’ll gladly take that right now, if that’s the best case scenario.

      • Farewell Mo

        Yep.

        I think it’s important he not need surgery until 2017 at least since there’s likely no way he’ll opt out in 2017 with either an unrepaired partial UCL tear or while rehabbing from surgery.

      • AndrewYF

        Remember, he has an opt-out after 4 years. The Yanks would hopefully learn their lesson, let him walk (with full knowledge of the health of his elbow), and let some other team deal with the inevitable TJ surgery.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      I believe Halladay had a UCL injury and avoided surgery altogther.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    *cues up Nina Simone and/or Muse*

    And I’m feeeeeeeeeee-liiiiiiing gooooooooooooood!

  • Pkyankfan69

    Awesome news… Still trying not to get my hopes up though

  • Masahiro Dinero

    Awesome news indeed.

    I hope all goes well for him in the coming days/weeks and that surgery is not necessary.

    • Pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

      Not a bad handle. Might have gone with Masahiro De niro for the win!

  • Guest

    After lengthy research following RAB Twitter’s question regarding the correct saying for “playing catch,” I’ve concluded the correct saying would actually be “doing the catch.”

    “Tanaka feels good after 50-pitches of doing the catch.”

    Yep, settled.

  • Jake

    Collective sigh of relief.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    As good news as we could realistically hope for.

    Masahiro Tanaka: Mr. September

    • Farewell Mo

      The Yankees have already had a Mr October, Mr November and a Mr May.

      I do believe Mr September has not yet been taken

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I give you Mr. April, Yangervis Solarte.

        • Chip Rodriguez

          Beats last year’s Mr. April, Vernon Wells.

          I see Solarte’s hitting nicely for the Padres. Glad he’s doing well, and I really hope he keeps it up there and gets to bat higher in that lineup.

          Even if he turned into a bit of a pumpkin later on, it was so much fun watching him.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Get off that podium, Solarte.

            I give you Mr. April, Vernon Wells!

            • Farewell Mo

              Arod might have something to say about that.

              His 14 homers in April 2007 is a major league record (tied with Pujols April 2006)

            • Chip Rodriguez

              No thanks. Let’s try and forget 2013, and Hal’s Half Price Heroes. Wells, Hafner, Youkilis… good lord.

              • W.B. Mason Williams

                Currently embroiled in a vitriolic legal battle with the Stallone estate over “The Expendables”.

              • Pete22

                They actually won more games or about the same number as this team is on pace to win. It was a much tougher division too.

  • John C

    Good news, but theres a huge difference between playing catch and then pitching on a mound, particulary when he tries to throw a splitter, which carries so much stress on the elbow.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Yes, but you have to crawl before you walk. It’s the best news we could get at this particular point in time.

      • Farewell Mo

        This.

        There were really only 2 options after playing catch, pain or no pain and I’ll gladly take this option.

        • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          Right on. That’s how I see it.

    • kenthadley

      Of course if you can’t play catch then you can’t throw a splitter…but if you can play catch then you MIGHT be able to throw the splitter. So, first step, but somewhat important, I’d say.

    • derp

      is there any evidence that throwing a splitter is so much worse?

      we’re not talking about a twelve year old here. tanaka claims to get the movement on his split through snapping his wrist, now unless he changes arm slot or other mechanics, is it really any harder on his arm than a FB?

      • Deathstroke Heathcott

        If achieving that wrist snap comes via more torque on the elbow then it’s possible.

  • Ace

    Get the TJ surgery now and be ready to go when the team is rebuilt to win in 2016.

    • kenthadley

      If he gets it now or in November he won’t pitch next year. So why not try to follow this route. If he can pitch in September, he should be able to at least start next year. If he can’t do September, makes no difference in the long run.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      GET ON THAT GURNEY, TANAKA!

    • Masahiro Dinero

      I think it’s pretty easy to say “get the surgery now” when it’s not your arm in the actual and metaphorical sling.

      You just never know what will happen after getting cut open and stitched back together.

      After having gone through the decision myself (open hip surgery for a torn labrum) there’s a lot to consider when your job is on the line (I’m in the military, and if I can’t run and pass a fitness test, I can’t keep my job).

    • Blake

      And half the 4 years they have him for are gone…..I think it’s worth it to try the rehab. If it fails he will still be ready in 2016 or there about

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        But, if it does happen, we should bill it to Ace’s insurance plan.

  • TheStraw

    Did they ever elaborate on what size the tear was? All we heard is that it was small. Was it microscopically small? I would think his prospects for a complete recovery would depend a lot on exactly how big or small the tear was. Maybe it was nothing more than a tiny spot on the MRI?

    • Blake

      Very small which is why 3 too orthopedic surgeons have recommended rehab and not surgery……I think folks sorta have exaggerated the success of TJS……yes it’s usually successful but it’s not 100% and it can recur.

      Dr James Andrews himself has been quoted as saying “there is nothing that surgery can’t possibly make worse”. It’s. A great surgery if you HAVE to have it……but it doesn’t always work……just ask Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        A lot of the promotion of it as the ideal procedure was before your Medlens and Beachys (or Beachies….ponder that one) started happening.

        Yeah, I don’t feel anywhere near as positive about a pitcher getting TJ as I did before.

        • Farewell Mo

          It wasn’t long ago when the narrative was that pitchers would come back throwing harder after the surgery. It was almost being spun as a positive when pitchers had TJS.

          • Blake

            That’s kinda always been discounted by the actual suegeons……the rehab is so extensive that sometimes guys will come back throwing harder because everything else is stronger and they are in better shape…..but the actual surgery doesn’t do it

        • Blake

          I have theories about the sudden rash of TJSs but I don’t want to venture too far off topic ;)

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Seems on-topic to me.

            • Blake

              True…..well in that case I think it’s very multifactorial with a big chunk this year being coincidence …..but I think year round youth baseball is part of it…..I think the fact that guys throw harder today stresses ligaments more than they were naturally designed to be streased……I think guys are manipulating the ball a lot more than they were 15 years ago and that’s leading to guys releasing the ball with their arms in odd positions ……

              It’s a lot of things but I think it’s pretty clear the pitch counts and innings limits are shots in the dark and they have no real idea how to prevent pitcher injuries

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                Oh, I think you’re right on point. I think ball manipulation is huge here.

                There’s a TWSS somewhere in there.

                • Blake

                  Yea I think increased velocities is a huge part of it as well……I don’t think everyone is designed to throw 95 ….but yet modern techniques and training has allowed more pitchers to do it. They problem is that the ligaments don’t get stronger along with everything else and IMO sooner or later the muscles exert more force than it can handle

                  • MG

                    blake, excellent comments about this issue.

                    It’s been a long time but I pitched in youth leagues and then in college, we had a season and then it was over. I don’t understand the benefit of throwing 50+ weeks a year, it makes no sense to me whatsoever.

                    I thought Cone was dead on target a few weeks ago about the amount of manipulation going on with the baseball as well.

                    I don’t think innings and pitch counts are the answer, it’s all a crap shoot-pitchers have blown out their arms for as long as baseball has been played and all of these modern theories haven’t helped that.

                    At the end of the day, at the professional level, it’s all about the money-agents want their clients to make as much money as possible so why have them throw 200+ innings while they are under team control when they can make $100M+ by minimizing their innings early and getting a big contract down the road?

                • derp

                  MLB covered this during one of the round table discussions.

                  when you have two doctors that have performed thousands of these surgeries saying that teenagers with ever developing bodies (ligaments, tendons etc.) throwing 51 weeks a year and never actually recovering is a bad bad idea, i’ll take it.

                  jim kaat mentioned during the discussion that he threw a lot…. and then they asked “were you throwing, or pitching?”. big difference between max effort/off a mound or trying to light up a radar gun for the scouts at a HS game and simply playing catch.

                  • Jorge Steinbrenner

                    Cone talked about it as length as well a couple of weeks ago on YES.

              • HansDavenport

                There is a strong faction in on the year round baseball part of it. I’ve read about that elsewhere.

      • acX

        Make sure you don’t accidentally bill it to me :)

    • Blake

      Also I believe they said it was in the middle of the ligament where the blood supply is better to promote healing……

      • TWTR

        Really? I didn’t know that. Thanks.

  • Yankee$

    Well, any good news is appreciated.

  • Hankflorida

    If the Yanks get Tanaka back with Pineda, this team does not have to be the Bronx Bombers to get to that one game playoff in October, and my money is on the Yankees if a healthy Tanaka is pitching.

    • Farewell Mo

      They could end up back with 3/5th of the all Italian rotation (Tanaka, Pineda and Kuroda)

      • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        Are you basing this on their names ending in a vowel? If so, what about Sabathia?

        • Farewell Mo

          With Nova and Sabathia, the entire rotation was “Italian” to start the season.

          It was an RAB joke in spring training which I cannot take credit for.

          • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

            Oh yes haha. I missed that one, but it’s pretty good.

  • HansDavenport

    This is good news. A slow process but it appears to be coming together.

  • TWTR

    *fingers crossed*

  • MG

    Good news on Tanaka-I’m old fashioned (as well as a scientist by background and training) and I’m just amazed by how quickly some posters want a guy to have major surgery that will not only keep him out for a full season but also leave at least some element of risk about coming back at a similar level of ability.

    Surgery should be a last step, not the first-that’s what each of the doctors recommended.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I wouldn’t even consider your POV to be old-fashioned in the least.

    • kenthadley

      Minor surgery = somebody else
      Major surgery = us
      Very easy to say let him get the surgery. See how easy it is when someone says “Ace, just get the surgery”.

    • mitch

      some posters are just so negative in nature that they assume surgery is a foregone conclusion

      • HansDavenport

        I’m not a professional athlete nor do I play one on TV. However I have avoided two surgeries, back and knee, both with the blessing of doctors. Other treatment worked both times.

      • Pete22

        Death certainly is a foregone conclusion, but surgery is only high probability. The timing of death, and surgery (if needed) is the great mystery, but surgery is likely to be more imminent.

        Seriously though, whether Tanaka has the surgery today or in October is the same, since he will miss most or all of 2015, so no harm trying to squeeze a few more starts from him. Maybe they get lucky and he avoids it all together for a few years. No idea.

    • HansDavenport

      From a personal point of view, I agree that surgery is that last option I want to pursue.

  • kenthadley

    Another silver lining…if he does come back, he’ll be well rested.

  • MTU

    I think even more important than the PRP injection are the frequent hot baths w attendant Geisha girls.

    This promotes healing even more.

    Or at least reduces your misery.

    • I’m One

      Having been to Japan, I fully endorse the Geisha girl/hot bath method of treatment.

    • Howler

      Explains why my healing from ligament injury was so miserable.
      I am encouraged that the tear had to be very small for them to expect it to heal that quickly.

  • Blake

    Where can I mention Javier Baez got called up to the big leagues without being reprimanded?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Sneaky sneaky.

    • MG

      Not here…

      REPRIMANDED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ChipS56

    Phelps to the DL – Matt Daley recalled. Yankees still carrying 13 pitchers for some dumb reason.

    • mitch

      their starters have gone a combined 13 innings the last 3 nights. They need all the help they can get.

  • Dick M

    Good news for sure. Am a little skeptical but we’ll see. The split finger is tough on that ligament by all accounts and Tanaka-san throws an awful lot of splits.

    #it’sallabouttheplasma

  • ChipS56

    Ian Clarkin has been promoted to Tampa.

  • mustang

    When is baseball going to take a serious look at this problem with pitchers?

    SMH

  • RetroRob

    Have they done another MRI to see how it’s mending?

  • Patrick M.

    Even if he doesn’t make it back this season, this is sounding like good news. If he can avoid TJS and be back healthy to start next year I will be happy.

  • Pete22

    The key with Tanaka will be if his slider and split are still effective and if he continues to throw it as much as he has been. Don’t expect to see him until mid-September. Yankees are going to have to make the post season w/o him. If he is healthy for the post season they have a chance to go deep.