(Reuters) - Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka had surgery on Tuesday to remove a bone spur in his pitching elbow and is expected to be ready for the 2016 Major League Baseball season, the New York Yankees said.
The bone spur was pre-existing and dated back to Tanaka's stellar pitching career in his native Japan, according to the Yankees.
"Typical recovery time includes six weeks of exercise and strengthening, followed by a throwing program," the Yankees said in a statement.
Former All-Star Tanaka, 26, went 12-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 24 regular season starts this year for the Yankees.
He started for New York in their American League Wild Card game against the Houston Astros, giving up four hits and two runs in a 3-0 loss that ended their season.
An MLB All-Star last year, Tanaka was a five-times All-Star in the Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan where he played for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
The right-hander, who possesses a wicked, diving splitter, went 24-0 in his final 2013 season for the Golden Eagles before he signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees in January 2014.
Tanaka was a key acquisition in the reconstruction of the Yankees' pitching staff following the retirements of Andy Pettitte and closer Mariano Rivera.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue