Tanaka was taken up to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for further evaluation and testing. The Yankees announced afterward that Tanaka was “alert, responsive and walking under his own power,” and the team announced later in the evening that Tanaka was released from the hospital and would enter the concussion protocol.
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“I appreciate all the support,” Tanaka wrote on Twitter. “I feel it a bit right now, but I’m all good. Going to try to get back on the mound ASAP! Thanks again for all the encouraging words!”
Tanaka faced Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres before Stanton stumbled on the plate, and Stanton doubled over as soon as the ball hit Tanaka. Stanton knows all too well the effects to be hit in the face, as he suffered a fractured jaw when he was drilled by a Mike Fiers pitch in 2014 when Stanton was with the Marlins.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
“It stops you in your tracks,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s definitely a moment that gets your attention in a big-time way.”
It was a disastrous opening for the Yankees. Players started to report Wednesday following a three-month layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic followed by the labor dispute between MLB and the players association.
“It was horrible,’’ said Jordan Montgomery, who was finishing warming up before taking the mound. “To check out and see everyone huddled around him.”
When the workout resumed a few minutes later, Montgomery replaced Tanaka, pitching behind an L-screen, & most of the players who had previously been scattered across the field had moved to the dugout.
Montgomery said he requested the screen following Tanaka’s injury.
“I was a little timid after since,’’ Montgomery said. “I hadn’t in the pipeline on using [the screen]. After seeing that, I had it in the rear of my head. … I was a little shaken up.”
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Boone said the team “always” gives pitchers the possibility about whether to use the screen.
Aaron Hicks said it absolutely was hard to look at.
“Especially during something as simple as a sim game,” he said, “[but] anytime you step on a field, anything sometimes happens.”
It’s been an ugly 2020 for MLB — and most other areas, as well — and it only got worse for the Yankees on Saturday. Tanaka, 31, is entering the last season of his seven-year deal. He went 11-9 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 games (31 starts) in 2019.
Following the coronavirus-forced shutdown in March, an unseemly public dispute involving the league and union erupted before MLB commissioner Rob Manfred implemented a 60-game schedule, slated to begin July 23 or 24.
There was concern of players being more prone to injuries — especially pitchers — as a result of extensive layoff and a quick spring training reboot ahead of the start of the abbreviated regular season.
The Yankees already dealt with lots of injuries throughout the spring — with Judge shut down by a fractured rib likely suffered last September, Stanton sidelined by a strained calf and James Paxton slowed by a straight back injury that required surgery.
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But Boone had said repeatedly that the sport’s hiatus could work to his team’s advantage, as it allowed Judge, Paxton and Stanton to regain their health — and for Hicks to return from offseason Tommy John surgery without missing any time.
Now they could have to deal with a Tanaka injury, which would leave them short in the rotation, with Jonathan Loaisiga, Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia or Mike King potentially filling in behind Gerrit Cole, Paxton, J.A. Happ and Montgomery. Luis Severino is going for the entire year following Tommy John surgery and Domingo German will even miss the season while on the suspended list after violating the league’s domestic violence protocol last year.
“We hope that he avoided something really bad,’’ Boone said of Tanaka.