Yankees fans probably didn’t expect Masahiro Tanaka to bounce back this well.
On July 4, Yankees playoff stalwart Masahiro Tanaka was crumpled on the stadium mound, felled by a Giancarlo Stanton liner just a few hours into his glorious return to the states.
The news from later that night served as a cautious sigh of relief, as Tanaka was diagnosed with a mild concussion, and reported very few after-effects.
Of course, a concussion is only as “mild” as it manifests itself to a particular person. Clint Frazier’s mild concussion from 2018 has, in many ways, nagged him to this day, impacting his defensive instincts subconsciously.
That’s why were were all stunned to learn on Thursday that Tanaka had thrown a bullpen session at a high intensity, according to pitching coach and guru Matt Blake.
“Really encouraging,” Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake told assembled reporters on Thursday, according to the Bergen Record’s Pete Caldera. “Very crisp, feel really good about where he’s at.”
We’ll all be watching Sunday’s ‘pen session intently prior to the Yankees’ exhibition contest against the Mets, but either way, this sets Tanaka up for a swifter return than many first thought, and still believed this morning.
Of course, facing live hitters is the biggest step — who know how Tanaka’s reflexes will respond to facing the same threat he battled when his injury occurred?
The man himself has looked every bit of the Normal Masa since the day this tragic accident befell him.
Tanaka’s enough of a steward of the game to let on when something’s bothering him, and clearly he was so undaunted on Thursday that he was able to unleash close to his full arsenal.
From biking the day after the incident, to Thursday’s first mound action, we’ve received nothing but uninterrupted good news about Tanaka’s recovery. Even if this timeline still leaves him likely to miss a turn through the rotation (hello, Clarke Schmidt!), you can’t help but love what you’re seeing.