When Masahiro Tanaka went on the DL with a tear to his UCL, there wasn't too much hope for optimism. Such an injury usually ends in Tommy John Surgery, most of the time. Tanaka and the Yankees decided to rehab his elbow and see how it responded. The word so far has been good, as Tanaka has been feeling better over the past few days. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told MLB.com on Monday that Tanaka is "feeling better and better."
Tanaka was diagnosed with a partial tear to his UCL in his pitching elbow earlier this month. As Tommy John Surgery is usually the answer, some pitchers elect rehab over surgery and have been able to make a successful comeback, most notably the Cardinals Adam Wainwright. The Yankees decision to try rehab with Tanaka has been paying positive dividends for the 25 year old so far, although he still has a way to go in his recovery.
"He's improved, but he still feels it, although on a daily basis it decreases," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said on ESPN Radio. "So that's good, but it's not good that he's still feeling it at this stage. So it's just day-by-day, week-by-week and we'll adjust accordingly. It's too early to call."
Although he could wind up needing surgery, the Yankees are holding out hope that Tanaka may be able to make a return this season. In 2006 Roy Halladay was told by Dr. James Andrews that he would need surgery while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay elected to rehab his elbow and was able to avoided surgery.
"From what I understand, I think 95% of the pitchers in baseball have some changes in their ligament," Halladay said last season. "Dr. (James) Andrews had told me that that he felt like at some point they'd have to go in and repair it. That was eight years ago and I never had an issue since."
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