On the eve of the 2015 MLB season the New York Yankees have been handed a warning from one Hall of Famer who believes the famous franchise should prepare for the worst concerning the man he describes as "the biggest key" to their success.
Tough times ahead
Pedro Martinez - World Champion with the 2004 Boston Red Sox - is the latest high profile name to call into question the long term future of star Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka - going on record today to claim the player "won't survive the season."
The accusation doesn't come completely out of left field. Tanaka struggled with injury in his first year with the Yankees and rumors around Spring Training have centred around the Japanese player's apparent reluctance to let loose with his famous fastball.
"I don't see him healthy all year and I don't see him healthy right now," Martinez said during an appearance of SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio.
"I'll be brave enough to say he's not completely healthy right now...Unless they come up with a magic trick to actually get him better during the season, I just don't see him completely healthy all year."
Much of the Yankees' hopes for the upcoming season rest of the high profile signing. If Tanaka can't see out the season it would count as a critical loss.
He has been dealing with a slight tear in the ulnar collateral ligament on his right elbow since last season and the Yankees may regret not sending him for surgery when the issue first became apparent.
Reports out of Spring Training have questioned the speed of Tanaka's fastballs in recent weeks with the average dipping below 90 miles per hour (this compared to the mid-90 he is known for).
The player himself has stated this is due to focussing more on a two-seamer but Pedro Martinez is less than convinced.
"Tanaka's not healthy right now because I believe Tanaka is hesitant to let it go.
"He's hanging all those breaking balls he's throwing. The only pitch he's committing to is the split-finger and his problems are actually in a place where you don't need to put any more stress, which is the elbow."
The Yankees faithful will be crossing their fingers that Tanika can prove his doubters wrong and remain healthy. But the idea that he is struggling psychological due to the injury too will also worry them.
What do you think Yankees fans? Can your team still prosper if Tanaka does go down during the season, or will he prove his doubters wrong? Let us know in the comments section below...
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