Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka has partially torn elbow ligament; doctors recommend rehab

  • Article by: STEVE HERRICK , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 11, 2014 - 7:07 AM

CLEVELAND — Allowing nine runs in the last two innings wasn't the worst thing that happened to the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

New York's 9-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians was overshadowed by the news that rookie sensation Masahiro Tanaka has a partially torn ligament in his right elbow.

General manager Brian Cashman said in a conference call during the game that Tanaka could return in six weeks, but didn't rule out the possibility of Tommy John surgery if the right-hander doesn't respond to a rehab program.

"Certainly disappointed for our player, for our organization," Cashman said. "He's been an important piece. We have a tremendously gifted and tough player. We'll see how he responds."

"It is what it is," manager Joe Girardi said. "We're not going to have him for at least six weeks and that's the tough part, but I'm optimistic that we'll have him back."

Tanaka was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday and had an MRI in New York, one day after his worst major league outing. He flew to Seattle on Thursday.

Cashman said Tanaka saw three doctors, including Yankees head physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad, and all three agreed that a six-week rehab program was the best option at this time.

"If we knew today that the best course of action was Tommy John surgery, despite the name and the amount of the investment, we would be doing Tommy John surgery," Cashman said.

Girardi, looking for any positive sign, said, "Guys have had success doing this and we'll keep our fingers crossed. That gives you reason for optimism that he's going to pitch again for us this year."

Tanaka, who is tied for the major league lead with 12 wins, allowed five runs and 10 hits — both career highs — over 6 2-3 innings Tuesday night in a 5-3 loss to the Indians.

The All-Star is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 18 starts, but has lost three of his past four outings.

The injury is a huge blow to a battered Yankees rotation already was missing CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda to injuries. Tanaka had been a stabilizing ace in his first season since arriving from Japan.

"We've lost 80 percent of it," Girardi said. "There's really not a whole lot that you can go back and redo. You've just got to go out and find a way."

Mets ace Matt Harvey initially tried to rehab a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament last year before ultimately opting for Tommy John surgery.

Harvey has been sidelined all season, but his rehabilitation appears to be going well.

"When it comes time to trying to work through it, it's a personal decision. Going down and having Tommy John surgery is a personal decision in itself. Everybody is different. No one is saying that he can't rehab and be completely fine and never have an issue again. For me, personally, it was a mental thing. It was something I didn't want to continue thinking about," Harvey said Thursday night in New York.

"I would tell him to just go with what you feel. I didn't listen to anybody. I went off of my personal feelings. It's your body that you want to throw with again. If you want to go out and try not to have it, and your mind is set to that and you're 100 percent committed to that, then more power to you. If it's the other way around, then go get it done."

Derek Jeter, playing his final regular-season game in Cleveland, went 2 for 4 in the 1,000th multihit game of his career.

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