Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka underwent a procedure today to have a bone spur removed from his right elbow. The spur was present before Tanaka joined the Yankees in advance of the 2014 season, the team said.
Importantly, it appears that there has been no change in the status of Tanaka’s right ulnar collateral ligament. Tanaka has been pitching through a partially torn UCL for some time now, but still has yet to require Tommy John surgery.
New York says in its announcement that the Japanese hurler will require “six weeks of exercise and strengthening, followed by a throwing program.” The club expects that he’ll be recovered in time for spring training.
Tanaka, who’ll soon turn 27, was not as dominating in 2015 as he was the year prior. Though he ended up showing a slight velocity increase, his strikeouts per nine dropped (from 9.3 K/9 to 8.1 K/9) and he struggled to limit the long ball (1.46 HR/9 and 16.9% HR/FB).
The Yankees will surely hope that this ends Tanaka’s elbow difficulties, at least temporarily. He’s a key piece of the team’s immediate and long-term outlook, with $111MM left on his contract through 2020 (unless he exercises an opt-out after the 2017 campaign).