Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka has been diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, though the team is hopeful the All-Star hurler will be able to return later this season.
In a conference call held with reporters on Thursday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman stated that three separate doctors who evaluated Tanaka recommended that he attempt to rehab the injury.
The standout right-hander will undergo a platelet-rich plasma injection next week in New York.
If Tanaka's rehab proves successful, he could return to action in approximately six weeks. If not, the 25-year-old will likely be forced to have Tommy John surgery which would likely sideline him for all or most of next season.
The Yankees placed Tanaka on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, one day after the first-year major leaguer had his worst start of the season. He was tagged for season highs of five runs and 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings to take the loss in New York's 5-3 setback at Cleveland.
Tanaka had given up three runs or less in each of his first 16 outings since leaving his native Japan to sign a lucrative seven-year contract with the Yankees in January. That string ended when he surrendered four runs in seven innings at Minnesota on July 3, though he was still able to pick up his MLB- leading 12th win of the season.
Through his first 18 starts, Tanaka has compiled a 12-4 record with a 2.51 ERA, second only to Seattle's Felix Hernandez for tops in the AL.