Tanaka OK after Sunday’s scare


May 3, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After taking a line drive off his left ankle during Saturday’s win over Tampa, All Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees could do was hold their breath. Tanaka downplayed it, and refused to have it looked at during the game. However, by his own admission, he was a little worried. Sunday, Tanaka expressed his concern.

Through his translator, Tanaka said to Dan Martin of the NY Post: “It feels OK, When I woke up this morning, I thought there’d still be a bruise there, but there wasn’t, so I’m absolutely good.” The ace added, “It did hit me pretty hard,” Tanaka said. “You never know what’s going to happen on plays like that, so I’m happy it’s not something that’s going to impact me.”

Joe Girardi seemed confident Tanaka was fine to stay in the game as well as moving forward. The skipper said Sunday, “I checked on him when he came in from the inning and then watched him doing his work today. …“He’s showed some mental toughness since he’s been here and physical toughness is part of it, too. We don’t have any concerns right now.”

Despite taking the hot-shot off the bat of David DeJesus, Tanaka was his normal, impressive self on Sunday. He went seven innings, striking out five and moving to 4-0. Tanaka gave up three runs (2 solo homers) in the first four innings. He may have gotten touched up a little early, but showed the resolve to battle through until his team could pick him up. This mental toughness is something we as Yankees fans, are getting accustomed to seeing.

I think all Yankee fans can exhale after hearing that Tanaka will be OK. The Yankees’ rotation is in shambles right now, and Tanaka is the only one holding it together. With the combination of injuries, ineffectiveness by veterans that are counted on to produce, and the struggles of young, inexperienced arms, the Yankees can ill-afford to lose Tanaka. Until Michael Pineda can return in a few weeks, the Japanese phenom needs to keep this rag-tag rotation together. Even when Pineda returns, the Yankees may have to make a move for an arm if C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda continue to struggle.