Jeff Passan — who is writing a book about Tommy John surgery, so it is of special interest to him — has a story today about Masahiro Tanaka and the uncertainties surrounding his elbow. The same elbow which cut his season short last year and which some, Passan included, it seems, believes should have been operated on then instead of, inevitably they believe, later.
For his part Tanaka blames poor mechanics for the strained on his UCL last year and believes he will be fine with mechanical adjustments:
“I don’t think they were solid,” Tanaka told Yahoo Sports through interpreter Shingo Horie recently. “With the right mechanics, the right form, the right balance, you’re able to throw a solid pitch. It’s not about how much power you can put on the throw. It’s more about the mechanics. That’s what I believe.
I have no idea whether Tanaka and the Yankees were right or wrong to decide agains Tommy John surgery. I’ll leave that up to the orthopedic surgeons with whom he and the team consulted and trust that they got good advice and are acting on that good advice.
But the mechanics stuff interests me. Specifically, it will be worth watching as the season begins whether Tanaka has truly altered his mechanics in a way visible to us in the stands. And whether that impacts his effectiveness or creates other problems, as pitchers who change their mechanics up often experience.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.