Masahiro Tanaka in 'Good Spirits' After Comebacker; Yankees Say Right-Hander 'Dodged a Bullet'

Max Goodman

When Masahiro Tanaka went down on the mound at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, struck in the head by a line drive, manager Aaron Boone feared for the right-hander's life. 

"That's your immediate focus and reaction," Boone said Saturday. "Just hoping and praying that he's okay."

As frightening as it was, early returns on Tanaka's status show the right-hander was fortunate enough to avoid any disastrous injuries. Boone revealed Tanaka was diagnosed with a mild concussion, but that he's been "symptom free" ever since he was released from NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital Saturday evening.

Tanaka was drilled by a comebacker mashed off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton, whose shot had an exit velocity of 112 mph.

"I mean that ball came back I think they said 112 [mph]," James Paxton said on Sunday. "When a ball comes back at you that hard, there's really not much you can do. You kind of just get lucky if you put your glove in the right spot."

Tanaka arrived at the Stadium around noon on Sunday, and his teammates and manager were relieved with what they saw. Boone said Tanaka was "in good spirits."

"We've seen him here today, walking around acting like his normal self," Brett Gardner explained. "I'm hoping that he's in the clear."

Boone's optimism about Tanaka's condition is promising. He emphasized the fact that Tanaka slept well Saturday night and hasn't lost any appetite. That said, he made sure to preface that his status is subject to change at any moment.

"I don't want to speculate too much because anytime you go into concussion protocol—and even though everything's looking positive right now—you still want to get through these days and make sure you know he's symptom free and able to do everything from an athletic standpoint without generating any symptoms or anything," Boone explained. "I'm hopeful and feel good about where he's at, but I need to see it unfold now for the next several days."

New York is unsure if Tanaka will be ready to pitch when the regular season is set to begin later this month. If healthy, he's likely to be situated in either the second or third slot in the Yankees' starting rotation, behind ace Gerrit Cole.

Tanaka has yet to speak out publicly since the incident, but took to Twitter Saturday night to assure his fans that he's doing well.

"I appreciate all the support. I feel it a bit right now, but I’m all good," Tanaka wrote. "Going to try to get back on the mound ASAP! Thanks again for all the encouraging words!"

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For more from Max Goodman, follow him on Twitter @MaxTGoodman. Follow ITP on Twitter @SI_Yankees and Facebook @SIYankees

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