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Should Tanaka even bother coming back?

8/12/2014

BALTIMORE -- Masahiro Tanaka played catch again Monday -- approximately 50 tosses of 90 feet -- and is slated to do it again Tuesday, possibly from as far as 120 feet.

He is nowhere near returning to the mound, however, having yet to throw a pitch. Even in the best-case scenario, he probably wouldn't take the hill until mid-September at the earliest.

Considering the way the Yankees have played recently, and the way they played in Monday night's 11-3 loss to the Orioles, is there any real point in trying to bring him back this season?

The Yankees are saddled with too many aging players on their roster, too much dead money on their payroll, and not enough prospects in their system. Tanaka is one of the few jewels in their collection, a player to build a team around.

What is to be gained in having him pitch a handful, if that many, meaningless games in September?

It goes back to what I wrote in July, when he first suffered the partially-torn UCL that the Yankees are so desperately trying to heal without surgery: Why not cut your losses on this season, repair the ligament with Tommy John surgery, and welcome Tanaka back fully recovered around the All-Star break next year?

Now that possibility is out the window; either Tanaka will heal on his own with the help of a PRP injection and be ready to go in spring training, or he will wind up under the knife and probably miss all of next season.

And for what? The fleeting hope that the 2014 Yankees, who floundered all season long on days Tanaka did not pitch, would somehow pull it together enough that a late September return for Tanaka would make a real difference?

That seems like folly now, and the course of action prescribed by three doctors -- including team physician Chris Ahmad and the legendary Dr. James Andrews -- unnecessarily risky.

What's the point of further risking an arm that could anchor your rotation for years to come?

Joe Girardi acknowledged Monday that even though Tanaka says he feels no pain after his soft-toss sessions, there really is no way of knowing if the PRP shot did anything at all, or if the UCL has healed even a little bit, until he throws a baseball in anger again.

Is it really worth it to find out this year?

Or is it better for the Yankees to wrap up Tanaka for the season and advise him, for the good of everyone, to give it a rest until next year?

Right now this season appears to be all but lost. There's no sense in taking the chance of saying the same about Tanaka in the final weeks.

QUESTION: Do you think the Yankees should continue to rehab Tanaka, or just shut him down?

Up now: The Rapid Reaction from Monday night's horrible 11-3 loss, as well as my postgame blog on why, unless you wear pinstripes to work every day, it's getting harder and harder to believe in the 2014 Yankees.

On deck: Game 2 of this three-game set, a truly must-win game matching Shane Greene (3-1, 2.89) and lefty Wei-Yin Chen (12-4, 3.90), first pitch at 7:05 p.m. The Yankees clubhouse opens at 3:35 p.m. and I'll be there with lineups and pregame news and notes soon afterward. As always, thanks for reading.