Whether Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow will hold up this season is anyone’s guess, but so far the news is positive out of Yankees camp.
According to Chad Jennings of the Journal News, Tanaka threw two innings today in a simulated game while facing Yankees prospects Cole Figueroa and Gary Sanchez. Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild was impressed with the outing and said that he’s “exactly where you want him to be at this point in spring training.” While nothing is official, he appears on track to make his Grapefruit League debut next Thursday.
“It’s good to see him get out there and be able to go through all his pitches and have a good day of work and feel good after,” Rothschild said. “If things progress the way they are, I’m very confident he’ll be ready (by Opening Day).”
Tanaka was diagnosed with a partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow last July, but he opted for rehab over Tommy John surgery and made two starts down the stretch. He’s altering his mechanics to protect the elbow, but the Yankees will have to cross their fingers that he can stay healthy. It’s hard to imagine them contending without him.
Tanaka, 26, had a 2.77 ERA with a 141/21 K/BB ratio over 136 1/3 innings in his first season with the Yankees.
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 have not withdrawn their generosity.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.