Over the last season and a half, Masahiro Tanaka's tenure as a major league pitcher has been filled with questions regarding his health. Diagnosed with a partial tear in his pitching elbow, many words have been written on the debate between surgery and rehab and which ultimately was the correct choice. The argument has gone on so long that we've all completely forgotten about any other kind of medical malady that the Japanese right-hander could be affected by. Now it turns out that Tanaka had a bone spur removed from his elbow.
According to a team press release, the bone spur has been a pre-existing condition in his elbow since he was pitching in Japan. Meaning that it showed up on multiple test results before he was signed, last year when his elbow originally tore, and this year after he hit the disabled list, and only now has it become necessary to remove. This likely has nothing to do with his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and might have been asymptomatic up until the surgery.
As we know after dealing with Carlos Beltran's arm injury last season, bone spurs can exist in the body without becoming a hinderance for several years. It's unknown if the condition began to bother him toward the end of the season or if they simply decided it was time to be safe and remove it before it could do any real damage.
The arthroscopic procedure was performed by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and went as expected. Recovery time should include six weeks of exercise and strengthening before beginning a throwing program and he is expected to be ready for spring training. Tanaka is expected to headline the Yankees rotation in 2016 and despite injury issues, proved to be very effective while healthy. Hopefully everything is fine from here and maybe even improves his pitching.