Dragons reliever Tajima to meet TJ

Chunichi Dragons right-hander Shinji Tajima (30) will undergo Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery this month in Nagoya. He was shut down after feeling muscle pain around his elbow during a February practice game, but the pain did not subside.

After the spring training concluded, Tajima was reexamined in Nagoya. The second opinion found that the muscle pain was caused by damage to the medial collateral ligament of the right elbow.

Tajima’s 34 saves in 2017 were second in the Central League that season and third in Japan behind Rafael Dolis’ 37 for the CL’s Hanshin Tigers and Dennis Sarfate’s NPB record 54 for the Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks.

But Tajima’s strikeout rate plunged the following season when he appeared in just 30 games. Last season, his strikeout rate returned to normal, but he allowed five home runs in just 21 innings pitching in the toughest home run park in Japan.

Tajima has pitched for the national team and in 2016 set a record by not allowing a run in his first 31 games of the season.

Although America’s top Tommy John surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, has closed up shop during the coronavirus pandemic, apparently using personal protective equipment for sports injury procedures during the current crisis is not an issue in Japan.

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