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Tanaka's spring debut set for Saturday

Tanaka's spring debut set for Saturday

TAMPA, Fla. -- Touted right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will make his Spring Training debut on Saturday, as he is scheduled to appear in relief during the 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

CC Sabathia will start that game, the first outing of the spring for the probable Opening Day starter. Hiroki Kuroda is also scheduled to come out of the bullpen.

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Manager Joe Girardi said that it was pitching coach Larry Rothschild's decision to feature all three starters in the same game for the first outing. They will then fall into a more arranged rotation as the spring continues.

"As I've talked about, we're going to space them out," Girardi said. "Tanaka's starts are going to space out a little bit more in Spring Training."

Girardi anticipates that Sabathia, Kuroda and Tanaka will each be asked to throw two innings, or about 35 pitches, against Philadelphia.

"The first outing, that's what we allow them to do," he said. "The big thing is, we want them to start an inning, make sure they start an inning."

Tanaka has thrown two batting-practice sessions this spring. After the most recent one, on Monday, he said through an interpreter that he feels "pretty much ready to throw in a game."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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