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Tanaka making progress: ‘I feel very lucky’

The scorching liner departed from Giancarlo Stanton’s bat as a 112 mph blur, too quick for Masahiro Tanaka to recognize, let alone react to. The resulting scene is one that his Yankees teammates hope to never see again, but that hasn’t stopped the righty from replaying the video “many, many times” in the last 10 days.

“I’m never able to see other pitchers in the same situation get struck in their head or anything like that. I mean, that kind of frightens me,” Tanaka said through an interpreter on Tuesday. “But for some reason, I’m able to see myself get struck in the head by a ball. I don’t know why. It’s kind of weird.”

That is a glimpse into how the “same old Masa,” as left-hander James Paxton recently described his companion in the Bombers’ rotation, has handled one of the scariest incidents to take place on the Yankee Stadium diamond since the facility opened its gates in 2009.

Tanaka sustained a concussion when he was drilled near the right temple by Stanton’s liner on July 4, a moment that prompted Stanton to immediately crouch in anguish. Though he remains under Major League Baseball’s concussion protocol, Tanaka’s progress since that date has been nothing short of remarkable.

“I feel very lucky because it could have been something that’s much worse,” Tanaka said. “Right now, I have no symptoms at all. I’m able to get back in all the training, so I think I feel very fortunate in a very unfortunate event.”