We've heard this narrative before, and not that long ago: A phenom pitcher, setting the league ablaze in his first go-round, complains of pain in his throwing arm. Immediately, an organization and its fan base nervously await the diagnosis.
The MRI reveals a partial tear in the right elbow. It's suggested that rest and treatment could be sufficient in the recuperation. But never far into the conversation are those dreaded words: "Tommy John surgery."
Mets star Matt Harvey is well aware of the thoughts swirling in Masahiro Tanaka's mind right now, a day after the Yankees' ace was diagnosed with a small tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. Doctors told Tanaka that, if all goes well, he could require only six weeks of recovery, but surgery hasn't been ruled out.
It's all eerily similar to what Harvey endured last summer.
"It was something that I felt I could work past and figure out an alternative to having surgery," said Harvey, whose sparkling season was cut short last August when a tear was discovered in his right elbow.
He initially opted for rehab."For me, it was a little bit of not believing that was the case . . . After not throwing for a couple days, everything felt fine."
But Harvey eventually had Tommy John surgery in October, convinced by two months of fear and mental anguish. "I didn't want to wake up every morning thinking, 'Is today going to be the day [the elbow] goes?' " Harvey said. "It took me a while, but I figured it was time to have the surgery."
Could the similarities extend to Tanaka, and if so, what would Harvey's advice be?
"I would tell him to just go with what you feel," he said. "Nobody is saying he can't rehab and be completely fine and never have an issue again . . . You want to go and try not to get [surgery] and you're committed to that, then more power to you. But if it's the other way around, then go get it done."