Matt Harvey has been there, too.
There's no way for Harvey to know how similar the two elbow tears are, a point he readily acknowledged when asked about Tanaka Thursday night. What Harvey does know is that after trying to throw, he decided to have the surgery.
"For me, it was a mental thing, something that would linger in my mind going forward," Harvey said. "I didn't want to wake up every morning thinking is today the day [the ligament would completely tear]."
It's possible that Harvey's situation was worse than Tanaka's, and that the risk of a complete tear was greater. Mets officials suggested from the start that surgery was the likely route; Yankees officials expressed more hope Thursday that Tanaka can avoid surgery.
What is similar is what goes through the mind of a pitcher who is told there's a tear in his valuable right elbow.
"I would tell him go with what you feel," Harvey said. "That's your body that you want to throw with for a long time. If you want to try to throw with [the tear] and you're 100 percent committed, more power to you."
Harvey found out he was hurt late last August, and he knew from the start that surgery would cost him most or all of the 2014 season. He had the surgery in early October, and while his rehab has gone smoothly, he almost certainly won't pitch for the Mets this year.
The timing is different for Tanaka, who would have plenty of season remaining if the six-week exercise and throwing program works.
Still, the situations are similar enough that Harvey could understand the interest.
"The last thing you want to see is another guy go down, especially in New York across town," Harvey said to ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand Thursday afternoon. "It is a tough process. It seems that everyone who throws hard is having that done. I remember that second visit and going through all that. It is definitely not a fun time."
Harvey hopes he is through the worst of it. Tanaka may just be at the beginning.
"It's an unfortunate thing," Harvey said. "I wish the best for him."