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Tanaka could pitch third or fourth game of season

02/28/2014 2:37 PM ET
By The Associated Press

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka will make his spring debut on Saturday, March 1.(AP)
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Masahiro Tanaka could make his first regular-season start in the New York Yankees' third or fourth game.

The Yankees complete a three-series at Houston on April 3, then have a day off before a three-game set at Toronto. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Friday "I think that's pretty safe to say" the Japanese right-hander will start game three or four.

Tanaka is to make his first spring training appearance Saturday against Philadelphia at Steinbrenner Tanaka and fellow Japanese right-hander and Hiroki Kuroda are to follow starter CC Sabathia. Each is expected to throw two innings or about 35 pitches.

"I understand there's going to be a lot of attention on the results, the numbers of how I do out there," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "But for me, I'm not looking at it at all. I just wanted to go out there and pitch my style. I just want to see how the batters react."

Tanaka signed a $155 million, seven-year contract in January. He was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year while leading the Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first Japan Series title.

NOTES: Closer David Robertson threw 22 pitches in his second batting practice session. ... Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson arrived at camp, where he is a spring training instructor.

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