Tuesday, October 11, 2016

If Tanaka Wants to Pitch in WBC for Japan, Yankees Should Say ….


The World Baseball Classic returns in 2017 disrupting spring training camps across the league while playing for bragging rights for your country and nothing more. Don’t get me wrong, I like the World Baseball Classic but the United States didn’t do themselves any favors when they decided to set it up. Most of the world plays baseball year round yet by the time the WBC comes around most of the players from the United States are just now getting loose, getting their work in and getting their timing down. Until and unless that changes the US will never win a WBC, period, but that’s not what this post is about. This is about the Japanese team in the upcoming WBC and one certain Yankees pitcher who may or may not want to represent his homeland in the competition. Masahiro Tanaka, should the Yankees let him pitch in what essentially is an exhibition set of games?

In a word, no. Want two words? Hell no. The New York Yankees do not need a Mark Teixeira type incident again, remember Teixeira hurt his wrist and basically missed the entire season in 2013 while prepping for the WBC, and the Yankees cannot afford a loss of a pitcher. Especially Tanaka. Now if Tanaka hadn’t suffered from a partially torn ligament in his throwing elbow, which granted has not given him any trouble since, and hadn’t been on the disabled list every year since for some arm-related injury including his forearm strain that ended his season prematurely in 2016 then I would be willing to give him a shot but I just can’t. I can’t bring myself to see him go down in the WBC pitching for a team that isn’t the Yankees. I can’t.

Tanaka heads into the 2017 season with a huge decision regarding his future. Tanaka has an opt-out clause in his contract for after the 2017 season and if he is going to accept the opt-out or decline to use it I’d rather that decision made from his work on a Major League pitching mound, not because he let it go or went too far too early for Team Japan. Call me selfish if you want but the Yankees are paying him $22 million to pitch in the Bronx, not sit at home in Japan injured.

I’m not sure if the Yankees truly even have a say in the matter, especially for a big-named pitcher like Tanaka, but if they do they have to say no in my opinion. If they don’t they need to at least make it seem like skipping the WBC is Tanaka’s idea and keep him out of the game by any means necessary. It’s just not worth the risk if you ask me. Just say no, Tanaka.


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