The Yankees announced today that they have reinstated pitcher Masahiro Tanaka from the injured list and designated catcher Chris Iannetta for assignment. Tanaka is set to make his season debut after a scary injury suffered in early July, when he suffered a mild concussion after a Giancarlo Stanton line drive struck him in the head.
Tanaka will be thrust into the middle of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, wasting no time getting into the swing of the season. It’s encouraging to see the 31-year-old ready to return to action after a frightening incident during Yankees summer training forced Tanaka to be hospitalized on July 4. Fortunately, he suffered only a mild concussion and recovered quickly. With the Yankees sitting at 5-1, he’ll have missed just one start, which seems like the best-case scenario given the alarming nature of his injury.
In the meantime, the Yankees fared pretty well without their longest-tenured starting pitcher, relying on the foursome of Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton (along with a cameo from Jonathan Loaisiga) to start games. It’ll be a welcome sight to have Tanaka back on the mound, with his track record of consistency and playoff success making him a fan favorite in New York.
Last season was in fact one of Tanaka’s worst statistically since joining the Yankees in 2014. Despite garnering his second All-Star selection, he posted the second-worst ERA of his career (4.45) and struck out batters at a career-low rate (7.4 K/9).
The removal of Iannetta from the Yanks’ 40-man roster leaves just two catchers, Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka. Beyond that duo, Erik Kratz, Josh Thole, and Max McDowell are members of the 60-man player pool. The other 29 teams will now have the opportunity to acquire Iannetta via trade or waivers. If no one bites, the 37-year-old will likely hit the open market and have a chance to latch on with a new club.