Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tanaka's elbow feeling good with spring training less than a month away

When Masahiro Tanaka went down with a partial tear in his right UCL last season, the entire Yankees' universe seemed to hold its breath.

Tanaka, the team's most consistent starter, was in danger of having to undergo Tommy John surgery, not to mention experiencing recurring issues throughout the remainder of his career. Tanaka's impressive numbers alone probably should have been enough to cause a significant stir amongst the Yankees' fanbase, but when one remembers his $22 million annual salary, the need for him to stay on the field becomes that much more dire. 

So the news Thursday that Tanaka's elbow is doing alright should definitely be welcomed by the club's followers, especially considering that pitchers and catchers are set to report to Spring Training in less than a month. 

"So far so good, including (the elbow)," Tanaka told The Japan Times during a visit to the country. 

Prior to suffering the injury last July, Tanaka had been cruising with the Yankees, going 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 129 1/3 IP. He didn't record a non-quality start until July 3, and had six outings in which he surrendered no more than two earned runs while lasting 7+ innings. 

But Tanaka isn't reflecting on what could've been last year, instead looking forward to contributing to the Yankees however he can in the future. 

"Whether I'm the ace or I'm used in different roles within games, I'm thinking I'm going to win," he said. "So I'm not going to change anything I do."

Tanaka will likely serve as the Yankees' no.1 hurler again this season, but should have a healthier group behind him than he did in 2014. After spending most of last year on the disabled list, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda are all expected to return, joined by newcomer Nathan Eovaldi. 

Tanaka, staying consistent with his past statements, is hoping that group will be enough to get the Yankees to the World Series. 

"This year I hope to have the shortest offseason among all 30 big league clubs," the 26-year-old, referring to the Yankees' missing the playoffs last season, said.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)