“Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope it’s not much.”
By Bryan Hoch
There was disappointment in Masahiro Tanaka’s eyes on Wednesday morning, according to manager Joe Girardi, one day after the right-hander learned that he will miss at least a month with a strained right forearm and tendinitis in his right wrist.
For the moment, the Yankees believe that Tanaka’s current injury does not represent a precursor to Tommy John surgery, but they recognize that possibility. Tanaka will refrain from throwing for seven to 10 days and is not expected to travel with the team.
“Any time you have to shut a pitcher down, there’s concern,” Girardi said. “With what happened last year, I can’t tell you if they’re related or not, but you’re going to think about it. You’re going to think about a lot of different scenarios. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope it’s not much, but we’ll deal with it either way.”
The Yankees plan to keep right-hander Chase Whitley in rotation, coming off a season debut in which he held the Rays to a run over five innings and picked up the win in a 4–2 victory. To replace Tanaka on the active roster, infielder Gregorio Petit was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“It’s going to be tough,” Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia said. “It’s going to be up to us to pick up the slack. Hopefully he comes back healthy and ready to pitch.”
There could be additional help on the horizon. New York also has left-hander Chris Capuano and right-hander Ivan Nova rehabbing and aiming to rejoin the club in late May and early June, respectively. By that time, Tanaka could be back on the big league mound, but perhaps not.
“The one thing I’ve tried to stress to our starters is, don’t try to make up for someone else’s absence,” Girardi said. “Just do what you can do.”
Tanaka’s injury has prompted commentary that the Yankees should have dispatched the hurler to have Tommy John surgery after sustaining a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament last July 8 in Cleveland.
Following that injury, Tanaka was examined by Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad, Los Angeles Dodgers team doctor Neal elAttrache and Mets team physician David Altchek. His results were also sent to noted specialist James Andrews for consultation, and all four doctors recommended the Yankees should rehabilitate Tanaka’s injury using platelet-rich plasma injections rather than rush into surgery.
“I am a manager. I am not a doctor, so I don’t understand the mechanics of all that,” Girardi said. “As I said yesterday, there’s going to be speculation. Are they related? I can’t tell you that. I don’t know; could be, it may not be. It could just be something came up from his bullpen. Who knows? The thing is, we’ve got to deal with it, and we will.”
Petit walked back into the Yankees’ clubhouse Wednesday morning, his equipment bag slung over his shoulder, and said that he never quite made it to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Petit said he spent most of Tuesday on his couch and would have packed up to meet the RailRiders on Wednesday before Tanaka’s injury put him back on the roster.
Brett Gardner and Brian McCann got the day off Wednesday against left-hander Drew Smyly. Girardi said the only pitcher in his bullpen that he’d probably stay away from is Esmil Rogers, who pitched 2 2/3 innings last night.
Girardi said that he wouldn’t mind if Alex Rodriguez hit homer №660 this afternoon rather than bringing some extra drama to the weekend series at Fenway Park.
“It just might crowd our clubhouse a little bit more if he doesn’t, but it doesn’t matter either way,” Girardi said. “I’d prefer that he does it with two or three guys on today and gets it over with.”