After head injury, Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka’s availability for first start still unknown

Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Masahiro Tanaka’s status for the start of Major League Baseball’s shortened 2020 season is still in question.

On Tuesday, he told reporters that he is unsure whether he’ll be able to make his first designated start after being struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton on July 4.

“I want to be optimistic and say yes,” Tanaka told reports via Zoom. “But obviously, the injury is at the head, so I think it’s something that I need to be cautious about and kind of take it careful, more so than other injuries.”

Tanaka is slated to be the Yankees’ No. 3 starter this season behind Gerrit Cole and James Paxton, meaning his first start could be scheduled for July 26 against the Washington Nationals.

The ball that struck Tanaka roughly two weeks ago was estimated by Paxton to be going at approximately 112 mph. Tanaka was transported to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital where he underwent a CT scan but was released later that day.

He was placed into concussion protocol by the Yankees, but he remains adamant that he is not feeling any symptoms.

“Obviously, we’re taking things a little bit more carefully now. But the good thing is that I’m feeling fine right now,” Tanaka said. “I feel very lucky because it could have been something that’s much worse.”

The 31-year-old has yet to take the mound since the incident but doesn’t foresee any hesitation once given the green light to return.

“I think everything will be OK once I step on the mound,” Tanaka said. “But you really don’t know until you face a live hitter and at that point in time, you might feel some worries or concern going up on the mound. But as of now, I feel OK getting back on the mound.”

More from around NYC