Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka Returns to Mound and Gives Surprising Update on His Status

Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees faced live hitters on Tuesday.

We’ve speculated plenty in recent weeks about who the Yankees can use in Masahiro Tanaka’s place when the season opens, but we should’ve known by now: he’s not relinquishing his spot easily.

Tanaka hit the deck on July 4 when a line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton struck him at 112 miles per hour. He was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with only a mild concussion, though all of us understood that to be an inexact science.

Against the odds, though, Tanaka continued reporting real progress, and it seemed he’d miss only a turn or two if everything checked out as desired when he faced live hitters. That test came on Tuesday, and the hurler passed with flying colors, picking up exactly where he left off.

According to the man himself, using an L screen for protection still wasn’t a consideration, even after seeing exactly how that could go wrong, up close and personally.

After leaving the mound on Tuesday, Tanaka asserted that he felt as comfortable as he’d hoped, and could rejoin the Yankees rotation for good following another live BP session in five days.

Theoretically, that would mean he’d miss exactly one start.

Just an incredible recovery, any way you examine it.

During an abbreviated 2020 season, minimizing long-term absences for key players is crucial to sustained success. That, of course, doesn’t account for unpreventable freak accidents, though. When Tanaka clattered to the dirt, it seemed the Yankees had the exact nightmare scenario on their hands, though clearly an unavoidable one — the sound waves from “DUCK!” panic screams can’t outrace a baseball.

Against all odds, though, Tanaka appears to have encountered a rarity — a “mild” concussion without any of the requisite side effects. He couldn’t dodge the physical bullet, but he seems to have bent out of the way of the metaphorical one. Amazing.

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