FULL COUNT: The latest on trio of Japanese arms


A week after the All-Star break, three Japanese starting pitchers find themselves in very different situations.

Just prior to the All-Star Game, the New York Yankees received the awful news that rookie right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (12-4) has a partially torn elbow ligament and there is no clear timeline for his return. 

The Yankees are hopeful that Tanaka won’t need Tommy John surgery, but the immediate future of the 25-year-old who signed a seven-year deal worth $155 million remains a big question mark.

Two of his countrymen know how long and tough the recovery can be if indeed he needs it down the line.

Late in 2011, left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada inked a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles and seemed primed for a spot in their rotation. Yet he never threw an inning in the majors due to an elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery. 

Wada, 33, signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs this season and made his major league debut on July 8 in a start against the Cincinnati Reds. He tossed 5.0 shutout innings, allowing one walk while striking out three.

Meanwhile after nine starts, the New York Mets moved veteran starter Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-3) back to the bullpen where he was effective earlier in the season, recording three holds and a save. 

The 33-year-old is in the midst of a resurgence after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011 and being released by the Boston Red Sox in 2012. Dice-K spent last season with the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A club followed by a short stint with the Mets. Matsuzaka currently has a 3.61 ERA and has held hitters to a .202 batting average.

Drew Morita, a Yonsei from Kaua‘i, writes from San Francisco. Follow him @drewmorita or e-mail him at drew_morita@yahoo.com.


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