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Swallows’ Tateyama in no shape to start season

Kyodo

Tokyo Yakult Swallows pitcher Shohei Tateyama will not be ready in time for the start of the 2014 regular season as he struggles to recover from reconstructive surgery on his right elbow, manager Junji Ogawa revealed Monday.

Tateyama, who turns 33 on March 17, was the team’s Opening Day pitcher last season but made only one other start as he was forced to undergo season-ending ligament surgery.

In March 2004, he had the same procedure performed on the elbow but the repaired ligament snapped, resulting in another surgery.

“He will have to take it in steps so he can pitch in a game. Hopefully, he will be ready to come out around May,” Ogawa said.

The former Swallows ace, who posted the most wins in the Central League in 2009, had been practicing with the top team in spring training but complained of discomfort in a preseason game on Feb. 25. Although no abnormalities were found in a subsequent examination, Tateyama has not pitched in a game since.

“There is no need to rush him. If he has a fallback now nothing will come of this,” Ogawa added.