Masahiro Tanaka was temporarily shut down Friday and was flown back to New York after experiencing some soreness in his arm. Tanaka is the future of the Yankees franchise, so it is understandable for people to get nervous anytime they hear the words "sore" and "arm" in reference to a player that is rehabbing from a partially torn UCL. Regardless, it is still too early to start hitting the panic button and declaring him destined to go under the knife.
One thing everyone needs to consider is that Tanaka has been adamant that the sensation is just general soreness from pitching and not at all like the elbow pain which had first alerted the organization to the partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. Now it is common knowledge to never truly believe a player when he says everything is fine; these are insanely competitive individuals, and no player ever wants to be seen as mentally or physically weak and be known as "quitting" on their team. (Well no player except those named Carl Pavano). We also need to consider that Tanaka has been incredibly honest in his personal assessments of what he has been feeling. From his short time in pinstripes, it is blatantly obvious how badly Masahiro Tanaka wants to be on the mound. Yet in spite of his personal thoughts of this being an insignificant issue, he still made sure to inform the team.
The forty-nine pitch simulated game at the Tigers' Comerica Park also marked the first time Tanaka has thrown that many pitches at an effort level comparable to an actual game. Anyone who has ever engaged in any form of strenuous exercise or has ever rehabbed from an injury knows that the body is going to undergo periods of soreness and fatigue as it rounds back into form. This is especially true when an individual has only recently begun increasing the intensity of their training workload, as Tanaka has done.
During the series opener with the Blue Jays on Friday, Michael Kay spoke on air that the trip back to New York was initially scheduled to occur on Saturday. The Yankees merely decided to send the ace back a day earlier. Kay continued on, mentioning how Tanaka had voiced his belief that the Blue Jays visitors’ facility was inadequate and he preferred to be back in New York in order to continue strengthening his arm.
Understandably, the Yankees are going to be cautious with Masahiro Tanaka, which is why they are going to push back his next simulated game by a few days. Even when factoring in his importance, the organization's official stance is that the issue is minor and the phenom will not need to see Dr. Ahmed. Until news breaks that the soreness is lingering or is concentrating around his elbow, everyone should just take a couple of deep breaths and relax.